Belladrum, West Coast Berbice residents yesterday vented their frustration and anger at the detention of controversial Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo in protest, blocking the main access roads and demanding that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) release him.
Mingo and three of his assistants were arrested last week, after investigations into the protracted General and Regional Elections commenced. Mingo has been hit with a slew of charges including fraud and misconduct in public office for his role in what has been shown to be manipulation of Region Four votes in March 2 General and Regional Elections.
Over 200 Belladrum residents in response, packed onto the Paradise Bridge, even with the continued hike in Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Guyana. Some wore masks but many others did not as they chanted, sung gospel songs and danced to drums, all while denying commuters on both sides of the thoroughfare leave to pass.
Police presence including officers from the Tactical Services Unit (TSU) was heavy on the grounds but appeared to only serve as a precaution incase the crowd got too out of hand.
In full view of officers, the residents placed large boulders on the road, burnt tires, and old materials. They even took it a step further and fetched out a large old shop, placing it in the middle of the bridge. The residents also brought out old cars to aid the blockage.
The Force in a statement later last evening categorically stated that not only are the protests illegal but they also represent a threat to public safety due to the riotous behaviour of those involved in the illegal protests.
“Such behaviour can only cause harm to the wellbeing of innocent citizens,” they said.
Further, they added that the continued blockage constitutes a denial of the rights and freedoms of tens of thousands of citizens who need to use the public roadway in the exercise of their constitutional freedom of movement.
“Moreover,” the Force stated, “the gathering of protestors and the miles-long build-up of traffic on both sides of the road at Belladrum are a clear violation of the Covid-19 guidelines which are currently in place as part of Government’s efforts to mitigate the effects and spread of the global pandemic in Guyana, thereby endangering the lives of tens of thousands of Guyanese.”
The Force urged those residents to desist and made it clear that they will use all means necessary to clear the public roadway of all obstructions.
The protestors’ actions however got the full support of incoming Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon who urged them on.
Harmon said “I have said to Mr. Mingo and the people of Belladrum from whence he came, I spoke to his wife and his brother…that we are fully supporting the village and that we will not allow our supporters, for that matter any Guyanese people to be abused, their rights violated under the direction of this fraudulent government.”
Harmon is contending that the Returning Officer is being unlawfully detained by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) but Attorney General, Anil Nandlall denied these claims, stating that the RO will remain in police custody until his court appearance today to answer the charges.