Security for Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) chairperson retired Justice Claudette Singh was put on high alert yesterday during unrest at the elections command centre.
Loud noise was heard coming from the inside of the High and Hadfield streets building as persons shouted “Free the Chairman”.
Video footage taken inside the building showed persons trying to gain entry into a room where Singh was located. The doorway was seen surrounded by a number of police ranks, who did not allow anyone to open the door. While a number of party representatives were trying to enter the room, they eventually made their way into a room nearby.
There had been a number of requests by party representatives to allow members of the media to enter the building, however, the police ranks standing at the entry way made it known that they were under strict instructions to keep persons from entering the building. An ambulance arrived at the scene and Emergency Medical Technicians made their way into the building and up at the room that the GECOM chairman was in. However, they were reportedly prevented from entering the room that she was in and left the building shortly after.
A member of the media was eventually allowed to enter the building and subsequently related that a number of ranks had cordoned the door to the room Justice Singh was in and that a number of police ranks were also inside.
It was revealed that she was not being “held hostage” nor was she “under siege” as some party representatives had claimed but persons reportedly made attempts to “storm the door” to the room that she was in.
The police indicated their need to have the building cleared of all persons at that time.
According to Kaieteur News Editor-in-Chief, Adam Harris, who was present at the command centre along with the newspaper’s publisher, Glen Lall, they were called by the retired judge but were prevented from entering the room she was in. “We were standing outside the door. He called her on the phone. She answered us. We heard her tell a policeman to let us go in. They didn’t allow us to,” Harris said, before adding that she sounded well.
As time went by, a number of police ranks could be seen entering the building through the main entryway and they were later seen exiting the building with The New Movement (TNM) General Secretary Josh Kanhai, who was escorted to a waiting police vehicle.
Kanhai, while speaking with the media as he was seated in the police vehicle, said that he was one of the persons that were pushed into a nearby room as persons present tried to storm the room that the chairperson was in.
Kanhai said all he was told by the police is that he was being arrested for a property charge. After Kanhai’s arrest, other representatives of TNM stated that Kanhai was pushed into the room where the retired judge was and as a result he was in the room for quite some time. Another person was seen being escorted out of the building by police and into another waiting vehicle. The man, who was identified as an observer with the American Chamber of Commerce Guyana (AmCham), was unable to say why he was arrested.