Racist, divisive comments: Region 5 APNU/AFC Councillor lambasted for supporting WPA’s position
The meeting of the Regional Democratic Council of Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) on Thursday, saw the condemnation of an APNU/AFC Councillor, who sought to defend the widely condemned racist and violent remarks attributed to representatives of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA).
In so doing, Councillor Muhammed Ishmael received immense backlash from his colleagues on both sides of the political divide.
Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance Tacuma Ogunseye at a public meeting at Buxton, East Coast Demerara on March 9, uttered remarks that sought to incite racial hostility and violence.
The statement has already faced widespread condemnation from a wide cross-section of civil society, including some Opposition Members such as Geeta Chandan-Edmond, Ganesh Mahipaul, Daniel Seeram and Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine.
Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton defended the remarks, saying that the politician’s right to free speech must be respected.
APNU/AFC Councillor on the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Five Muhammed Ishmael during a meeting on Thursday also sought to defend the WPA member’s remarks.
“The statement that that brother had made, persons are blowing it out of proportion and making a big issue out of it but it is clear and straight that there are two ways to deal with a Government, it is through the ballot or the barrel of a gun,” Ishmael told the RDC.
As the Councillor uttered the words, there were sounds of “no” coming from the floor as Councillors sat in disbelief.
However, Regional Chairman Vickchand Ramphal immediately called on the Councillor to retract his statement.
“Because I as head of this Council and this meeting will not encourage anyone in making statements that will fuel violence. Please retract your statement.”
Councillors from both sides of the political divide also tried to distance themselves from the statement.
Vice Chairman Ryan Pieters took the floor on a point of order after Ishmael had again taken the floor after being asked to take his seat. However, he said he was withdrawing the statement.
Before he took his seat, Councillor Ishmael, not satisfied that he was forced to withdraw the statement, went on the make threats to former Chairman Bindrabhan Bisnauth, saying that he would deal with him after the meeting.
The Vice Chairman said if the second statement was not withdrawn, he was going to table a motion to have him suspended from the Council.
“Mr Chairman I am speaking to the threat that was just uttered to this honourable member. Mr Chairman, the honourable member indicated that he will be dealing with this after the meeting. Mr Chairman, the Chief Whip would have just spoken about violence in our schools and here we have elected officials standing before this honourable house and publicly supporting violence in our community, violence in our country; we cannot support such behaviour in this honourable house or this region or this country,” the Vice Chairman said. (G4)