Top Cop must explain permission given to APNU/AFC for public meetings – Mustapha

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has called on the Police Commissioner, Leslie James, to explain how the caretaker APNU/AFC got permission to hold several regional outreaches at a time when COVID-19 Emergency Measures prohibits any public gathering.

PPP/C Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha

The coalition has planned a series of public meetings this weekend in communities across Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) – a move which has been described as one of the party’s last straws to stay in power following its defeat at the March 2, 2020 polls.
However, Executive Secretary of the PPP/C, Zulfikar Mustapha in a statement on Friday expressed his utter disgust and complete bewilderment over the move.
“I am seeking clarifications from the Commissioner of Police, Mr Leslie James DSM on whether permission was granted to the APNU/AFC for these gatherings. If it is a case where indeed permission was granted, I hope that similar courtesies will be extended to the People’s Progressive Party when and if the need arises,” Mustapha said in the missive on Friday.

Police Commissioner Leslie James

The PPP/C Executive Secretary went on to point out that these planned meetings are clearly in breach of the COVID-19 laws in place aimed at preserving the health and well-being of our citizens.
Item 2 (1) (j) and (k) of the revised COVID-19 Emergency Measures published in the Official Gazette on July 16, 2020, states: “No person shall attend or visit a meeting of a fraternal society, private or social club or civic association or organisation; or any other social activity.”
Further, Item 17, under the heading, “Offence”, it is stated that any person who fails to comply with any of these measures commits an offence under Section 152 of the Public Health Ordinance and is liable to summary conviction to the penalty provided under that Section.”
Mustapha used the opportunity to remind that only two months ago, a PPP leader and a democracy advocate were arrested and placed before the courts for picketing peacefully and observing all the COVID-19 guidelines outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to the PPP/C Executive Secretary, supporters of the coalition continue to flout these guidelines in Georgetown without any reprimand.
“This kind of double standard speaks volume… I am encouraging Guyanese not to participate in these so-called outreaches as they were only events to spew lies and misinformation. Do not put your health and that of your families at risk to satisfy the thirst of a few in the APNU/AFC to illegally hang onto power,” Mustapha implored in Friday’s missive.
After being charged for “hosting a meeting of a fraternal civic organisation” and placed on $25,000 bail each back in May, the charges were withdrawn against former PPP/C parliamentarian, Neil Kumar, and protester, Raphael Boodhoo.
They were arrested when they picketed the Foreign Affairs Ministry after the caretaker Government blocked the return of the democracy watchdog, The Carter Center, from entering Guyana to observe the recount of ballots from the March 2 General and Regional Elections. This denial prompted PPP/C supporters to take the streets.
Meanwhile, the series of public meetings across Region Three planned by the APNU/AFC would see senior members of the coalition fanning out across the country this Sunday to meet with supporters.
The outreaches are scheduled in villages such as Crane, Den Amstel, De Kinderen and Uitvlugt on the West Coast of Demerara; and on the West Bank of Demerara in Phoenix Park, Goed Intent, Bagotville and La Parfaite Harmonie.
AFC Executive and caretaker Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson is expected to speak at Parika, East Bank Essequibo, from 09:30h, and Philadelphia New Primary School in Vergenoegen from 13:00h on Sunday.
But when contacted, the former Minister refused to confirm whether he would be speaking at the scheduled outreaches.
Meanwhile, PNC General Secretary Amna Ally and Executive Members Joseph Harmon, Christopher Jones and Ronald Bulkan are also scheduled to speak at these meetings.
When contacted, General Secretary of the APNU, Amna Ally also took the stance of not confirming or denying the outreach.
“That is the coalition’s business. We have a programme and we will execute that programme. I am not confirming nor denying what you would have heard. Whatever it is, it is the coalition’s business,” Ally said during a telephone conversation with this publication. (G8)