The Corriverton Mayor and Town Council yesterday decided to write the ABC countries, the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities (CALGA) and the diplomatic community here on the police’s blocking last Thursday of its planned flag-raising ceremony.
At its first statutory meeting since the police blocked the flag-raising ceremony, reportedly following political directives last Thursday, the council decided that it will also seek a formal clarification whether such events can actually be observed by the Town Council or whether they would have to seek permission from the government.
The council also plans to seek clarification on who gave the order to block the programme. Additionally, the council said it will be considering moving the location for the programme from Republic Square, Springlands to the council’s compound, in order to avoid any further interference.
Furthermore, the council condemned the interference charging that it was undemocratic.
There were twelve councillors present yesterday, and one, Councillor Haywood withdrew himself from the discussions on this specific issue. However, he vented his feelings on the “lack of protocol” on the town council’s part, and also on the fact that Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan did not respond to the council’s invitation.
The council had unanimously decided to invite Minister Bulkan or the Regional Chairman, David Armogan or the PPP/C Member of Parliament, Adrian Anamayah to give the feature address at the programme. Bulkan and Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally however lobbied for Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan to be the featured speaker. The council however declined this. This refusal appears to have been the impetus for the blocking of the flag-raising.
Stabroek News was told that, in 2016, during Ganesh Gangadin’s tenure as Mayor of Corriverton, Minister of Public Infra-structure, David Patterson was invited to speak at the flag-raising ceremony for the Republic Anniversary. However, he, too, did not respond to the invitation, which resulted in Gangadin having to deliver the feature address on that occasion which saw no interference from the police.
Meanwhile, British High Commissioner Greg Quinn yesterday visited Corriverton and Stabroek News was told that Mayor Krishnand Jaichand raised the flag-raising issue with him. The High Commissioner yesterday told this newspaper that a comment would be offered when the formal letter is sent from the council.
Last Thursday, Police showed up at Republic Square, Corriverton, in several groups checking out the location. Around 4 pm, the police instructed the person responsible for the music not to play, an order which he duly complied with.
According to reports, the police seized the Guyana flag in order to block the programme from proceeding. The inspector at the scene, around minutes to 8 pm, then told those gathered that they would be allowed to raise the flag. Officials then decided to go ahead with the planned programme. The national pledge was said, followed by prayers. However, when the chairperson, Gangadin called on a child to recite a poem, as listed next on the programme, the lead inspector advanced towards the stage, and announced that they were not allowed to do anything else.
After about five minutes, Gangadin asked for the mayor to address the people of his town and then the flag would be raised. The police rejected this suggestion and removed Gangadin from the stage. The crowd then erupted in screams, declaring that they would all head to the station in support of Gangadin.
The police then told them they could raise the flag. However, at that point in time, the gathering had become so incensed with the interference of the programme and decided against this activity.