The Private Sector Commission (PSC) today called on Police Commissioner Leslie James to conduct himself professionally.
The PSC statement comes in the wake of growing concerns that the police force is being used as an enforcer for APNU+AFC during the election period and dealing in a heavy-handed manner with representatives of opposition parties and observer groups.
Statements by the PSC and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry follow:
Private Sector Commission statement
The Private Sector Commission calls upon the Commissioner of Police to do his duty impartially
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has observed with increasing and grave concern instances where the Guyana Police Force seems to have been acting under direct political direction. In particular, members of the Commission and its Elections Observers witnessed the deliberate and forceful intervention of heavily armed Police in preventing the oversight of the Statements of Poll at GECOM by physically removing accredited political party representatives, accredited observers, including Private Sector observers, and the members of the media. This resulted in the exposure of the Statements of Poll to possible fraudulent alteration.
Further, the PSC cites the complete failure of the Police to prevent mass crowds of the governing party’s political supporters actively harassing and threatening accredited observers, party officials and Media professionals in the course of their respective functions both outside of GECOM and at other places.
The Commission further cites the most recent incident of Police Officers assaulting and attempting to arrest a GECOM Commissioner who was maintaining a legitimate presence to oversee the storage of ballot boxes in containers at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre.
The PSC has made numerous attempts to telephone the Commissioner of Police without success.
The PSC now calls upon the Commissioner of Police to execute his duties as head of the Guyana Police Force to ensure that every member of the Force acts in accordance with its mandate set out in Article 197 (4) of the Constitution of Guyana and the provisions of the Police Act, Cap. 16:01.
The PSC remains ready and available to engage the Commissioner on these matters.
In the circumstance, it is noteworthy to mention that the PSC as the apex private sector organisation represents the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, the American Chamber of Commerce (Guyana), the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association, Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development, Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, Linden Chamber of Commerce, Forest Products Association of Guyana, Bartica Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana, Guycraft Producers Association, Guyana Association of Bankers, Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association, Guyana Association of Private Security Organisations, Guyana Rice Exporters and Millers Association, Institute of Private Enterprise Development, National Aquaculture Association of Guyana, National Air Transport Association, Rupununi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Shipping Association of Guyana, the Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry and the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana, and 26 Corporate members which includes some of the largest Corporations in Guyana.
Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry statement
GCCI Condemns Aggressive Posture taken by GPF and Political Interference in Electoral Process
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) notes with growing concern the increasingly hostile and aggressive posture taken by members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) against representatives of political parties and accredited observers.
Members of the GCCI’s electoral observer team were present on the evening of March 16th 2020, at the compound of the Arthur Chung International Conference Centre (ACICC) when a group of accredited observers and party agents who had convened a peaceful gathering outside of the building were confronted by riot police and forced to leave the premises. The GCCI can confirm that the observers and party representatives who attempted to question and gain clarity on the orders were subsequently threatened with incarceration.
The GCCI condemns all attempts of intimidation by the GPF as such actions set an uncomfortable precedent for the treatment of those involved in elections observation, and also brings the GPF’s professionalism and impartiality into question.
The GCCI calls on all parties involved to exercise restraint and refrain from interfering with or compromising the independence and integrity of the electoral process and to act only in a legal framework in accordance with the law.
Acts of intimidation targeted towards accredited observers and party representatives and attempts of overt political interference in the work of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must be openly denounced by all right-thinking political actors as such actions threaten to weaken and undermine democracy in Guyana.