An attempt by Lethem Mayor Carlton Beckles to hoist a proposed regional flag as part of Independence celebrations without the approval of the Regional Demo-cratic Council (RDC) of Region 9 has seen both parties calling in the police.
In a press statement, Beckles, who leads the APNU+AFC controlled Town Council said that he has called on the police force to investigate whether Vice Chair of the PPP/C-controlled RDC, Karl Singh broke any laws when he removed the proposed regional flag from a flag pole at Revolu-tionary Square, Lethem.
Meanwhile, Singh told Stabroek News that he removed the flag and lodged it at the police station as it was an illegal installation in a space maintained by the region and directly facing the regional guesthouse.
Both sides have accused the other of disrespect and claimed control of the space where the flag was hoisted.
According to Singh the space is maintained by the RDC, has been and continues to be used by the RDC for regional functions.
Beckles however maintains that as a public space within the municipality of Lethem it is subject to the control and administration of the Mayor and Town Council.
Beckles explained that the square which is used to commemorate National Observances has two flag poles, one of which was used to raise the Golden Arrow Head and the other for the proposed regional flag. He noted that since the flag is not official it was hoisted after the national flag.
The flag was raised in direct contravention of the expressed position of the RDC that it not be displayed at that location since it was not an official flag.
It is one of 10 flags proposed by the Ministry of Communities for each administrative region. Each RDC was on January 20 directed to conduct consultations with its residents to get their opinions on these flags or to have them propose a different flag.
Beckles maintains that his intention in hoisting the flag was to assist in regional consultations and fulfil the mandate given by Minister Ronald Bulkan to “display, have discussions and come to a decision.” He says he has completed these consultations at the level of the municipality and criticized the RDC for the sloth with which they are proceeding in the process.
“At the regional forum on January 20 a timeline of three months was given to complete consultations and submit reports. Three months ended on April 20, 2017,” Beckles explained.
Beckles is contending that Singh was disrespectful to the Mayor and Town Council of Lethem, the residents of Lethem and the Disciplined Services.
“If the political organization he represents had a problem with the proposed Regional Flag in the Public Square, his rational action should have been to make that known to the Mayor and Town Council and allow debate on the issue. He had no right to arbitrarily remove a symbol despite the fact it was still in the proposal mode from a square designed to accommodate national commemorative observances,” Beckles said.
However, Singh noted that there had already been a public altercation between Beckles and Regional Chairman Brian Allicock on this matter.
On the evening of May 25 during the Independence Ceremony, Singh explained that Allicock noticed a soldier preparing to hoist the flag and intervened. Beckles noting his intervention also spoke and after a verbal exchange between the two the divisional commander of the GPF had to intervene.
“The divisional commander decided that since it was a regional event and a regional flag the RDC’s decision should stand and the flag was not raised,” he explained adding that the next day he was informed that the flag had was presently mounted and in the absence of Allicock who is visiting a village in south central Rupununi directed that it be removed. (Thandeka Percival)