Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday issued an apology to the army for a post on his Facebook page that said the army was part of the team that broke the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre’s signboard at Red House.
“That is far from the truth. The army did not participate in that activity nor did the police – none of the members of the disciplined forces,” Jagdeo said at a press conference yesterday.
He added that army has “in fact… operated professionally on that matter so far” and he informed the media that the Facebook post was written by one of the administrators of his page. “From the time it was drawn to my attention, I had that post taken down. It is the first occasion I had now to say that it was not true,” he added.
Jagdeo also said the security forces have operated professionally in many cases. “But this government is clueless about what it wants to do and it sends all the wrong signals… They are shifting the focus of the security forces to go after political opponents,” he added.
The Red House is being operated by a Board that is made up of some members of the PPP. Jagdeo noted that the party has given solidarity and support to the Red House Board and to the Centre.
He dismissed claims that the president made at a media brunch on Sunday that he had discussions with the PPP about the matter.
He pointed out that there are other facilities in this country that the government can use for other presidents and that his party would willingly support it.
“If they want something for Burnham, why not just do it? Why do you have to take away Cheddi Jagan legacy? Why not just add?”
He also noted that five acres of prime transported land in the city was given to the family of Burnham during his administration, which he said they “turn around and sold for a large sum of money….”
Meanwhile, there has been a police presence at the Red House following an attempt by three men bearing the insignia of the Ministry of the Presidency on their clothing, to take possession of it on December 30 last. They broke the signboard and changed a padlock.
The previous day, President David Granger announced that the lease held by the Centre to the heritage building would be revoked.
Speaking to this newspaper, PPP/C MP Anil Nandlall said yesterday that the Centre continues to remain in possession and the police do not interfere with its workers. He presumes that the police are still there to prevent any further invasion or any unlawful attempt to take over the premises.
The Centre contains important documents and artifacts belonging to the Jagan family and the PPP.
Attorney General Basil Williams SC has said that the lease is invalid and Nandlall accused him of saying “a lot of irresponsible things… An order was granted, to which Williams consented.”
According to him, “A lease was purportedly determined by a president who purports to be the landlord but that is not conclusive about whether the lease has been determined or not.”
He added, “The tenant is contesting that the purported determination is unlawful.
Therefore a legal issue has arisen and the court is the only place authorized under the constitution to determine legal questions.”
He lamented that a tenant is only ousted from possession by an order of a court. He vowed that they will remain in possession
He noted that it was only after they left the precincts of the court that the officers from the Ministry of the Presidency attempted to take possession of the building.
Williams has defended the government’s move to retake possession of Red House, arguing that the occupation of the building amounted to trespassing in light of the unlawful manner in which the “purported lease” was granted.
Williams has said that the purported lease granted to Centre for the Kingston land where the heritage building is located was invalid as it was not sanctioned by any president, in keeping with the law.
He also said the lease did not include the building.