Guyana is a strange country with strange politicians and an even more strange democracy. Its Parliament and National Assembly serve as the centre stage for a new brand of puerile, vengeful and immature politics which has its genesis in the chaos created by the then Opposition in 2010 and 2011 that culminated in a minority Government.
The Police are strange and certain officials who serve at the highest levels of various parts of the country’s Judiciary have a tendency to hand down very peculiar and semi-controversial rulings depending on the issue at hand.
Recently, Minister of State Joseph Harmon announced that there will be a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the alleged plot to assassinate President David Granger. The CoI, he reasoned at a media conference, is specifically focused on assessing the conduct of the Guyana Police Force as far as completely and properly investigating the alleged plot to shoot Granger is concerned.
It is also focused on exposing all of the actors and details related to the alleged plot publicly and determining whether there were systemic and personnel issues that could have hampered a thorough probe. Retired Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Slowe has since been selected to lead the inquiry, and the Terms of Reference have been drawn up and made public.
The work of the CoI begun with a testimony and the subsequent cross examination of Andriff Gilliard, who claims that he was offered million to kill President Granger which he turned down. Gilliard, sprung to instant fame locally and abroad, after he was parachuted into the studios of HGPTV Nightly News to share details of the interesting plot. He told the CoI the very same story that he had shared with the media and lawmen, but this time, he added more flavour and other supporting circumstantial information.
Two Police Officers, who investigated, have also testified before the CoI and several other high-ranking security officials who had a part to play in the general probe of the plot are also slated to testify over the next few days. All of this is taking place even though the Police Force is still actively investigating the very same alleged plot and seeking advice from its legal advisor and the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is also interesting to note that the CoI was put together without all details being made public about the amount to be expended on the venture. No one knows how or why Slowe was selected. No one knows why the Government saw it fit for an ex-Policeman to investigate the current Police bureaucracy as opposed to a qualified civilian or competent member of civil society.
That aside, the CoI in general is in bad taste because it seeks to put Policemen on trial in the court of public opinion for their actions or lack thereof when the initial Police probe has not been completed. It therefore has the possibility of influencing the outcome of the probe because the lawmen investigating will feel compelled to charge or prosecute somebody for this plot, even if they do not have the requisite evidence that has surpassed the test of judicial scrutiny. In other words, they are doomed if they do and doomed if they don’t.
And the truth is Gilliard appears to be a sketchy personality. His tale about an alleged plot is not being backed up by any supporting evidence against the individuals that he has implicated. The Police have no evidence so far. No recordings or witnesses of this contract to kill the President have been referred to or made public by the investigators or Gilliard, yet the Government saw the need to fund a CoI. While any threat against the President’s life must be dealt with seriously, the Government appears to have special interest in this particular case even though it falls significantly short of the ingredients of an interesting Nancy Drew mystery.
It would not be surprising for a climax to occur during the CoI proceedings and the public is informed that some Opposition politician may have had a hand in the plot or that either the whistle-blower or his accusers are somehow linked to some personality close to or related to a People’s Progressive Party official. Something is amiss and sooner or later, the public must prepare itself for some drama to unfold in this matter.
The Government knows more than it is currently telling the public and it might be because the current Administration, as is believed by many, is the brainchild of this contrived controversy to sway public attention from its successive blunders and incompetence with respect to the economy. It is also believed that the CoI is being held to distract people from the slew of procurement corruption scandals and the President’s inability to abide by the Constitution as far as appointing a GECOM Chairman is concerned.
Now that the jailbreak has occurred and there is soon to be another scandal surrounding the operations of a major oil exploration company here, there will be many more CoIs, contrived controversies and manufactured distractions devised by the Government. The populace must be ever watchful, the Government does not want them to see something that has the potential to shake the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change to its core and brings its legitimacy into question once more.