We have travelled that path before

Dear Editor,
Over the last two years, the APNU regime has changed the course that our country was on: open, free and democratic; and has been pursuing policies that are taking us to dictatorial rule.
We have travelled that path before — during the post-Independence period, particularly in the 1970s; therefore, we are easily able to detect the signs and recognize the policies and ploys as we rapidly descend into authoritarianism.
The case involving the former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs is the most recent, albeit clearest, indication of the rot taking place in the democratic fabric of the society.  Indeed, this regime is taking a non-issue and trying to create the impression that some gross criminal act has been committed — a total and malicious fabrication! And why? Simply, in my view, to silence, intimidate, and drive fear in the minds of those who dare speak out in criticism of this Government.
After the November, 2011 General and Regional Elections, Mr.  Anil Nandlall was offered, and accepted, the position of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs. Before he accepted the appointment, he informed me that he had been subscribing to the Law Reports of the Commonwealth since 2003, and his subscription used to be paid from his private law practice.
He expressed a desire to continue the subscription, and asked if the Government would pay this subscription fee, since he would no longer be in private practice.
As President, I agreed to Mr. Nandlall’s request.  Indeed, it was not a big decision, since all ministers had a budget from which they subscribed to many periodicals or purchased books or reading materials relating to their work and for general knowledge. Indeed, at the Office of the President, I inherited the same type of arrangement, which I am sure that President Granger now enjoys.
I read former Prime Minister Sam Hinds’s writing in the press and learned that he enjoyed similar facilities during all his years at the bauxite company, both under foreign and local ownership.
The books or periodicals acquired under those arrangements were always considered the property of persons for whom they were intended. Now we see this Government taking the petty position that those books are the property of the State.
Even publishers of the reports, Lexis Nexis, confirmed that Mr. Nandlall was the subscriber, and never the Government of Guyana.
Despite all of this, Mr. Nandlall was charged and dragged before the court.  He pleaded not guilty, and the case is presently on-going in the Magistrate’s Court. So far, two witnesses were called and gave evidence.
In order to prevent SOCU from seizing his property, Nandlall applied for, and obtained, a conservatory order from the Chief Justice (ag) of the High Court, restraining members of the Police Force, including SOCU, from seizing his books.
One would have thought that the Police Force would now stand down and await the outcome of the case. Not so with this vindictive regime.
Even though the court order is still in effect, the Police again applied for, and obtained, a search warrant for those very books in Mr. Nandlall’s possession. The ground that they used is laughable, and would have really been comical had it not been so tragic. They claimed that they are looking for fourteen (14) ‘Law Reports of the Commonwealth’, and not fifteen (15) ‘Commonwealth Law Reports’ for the years 2012 to 2015, as is stated on the conservatory order which restrained the Police from entering and taking Nandlall’s property.
Can you imagine the effort, costs and resources this no-case is expending? At the same time, this very APNU regime has given scholarships to two of its ministers, costing taxpayers millions of dollars while paying the ministers full salaries; they pay half million each as rentals of mansions with swimming pools for junior ministers to live in.
The personnel in the regime lack shame, and are displaying a viciousness known to be associated with small-minded persons and petty dictators.
It is a shame that members of the Police Force would allow their professionalism and integrity to be compromised to such a state that they acquiesce with the regime in such a manner. It is obvious that they have succumbed to political control and manipulation.
It is also a crying shame that another warrant could have been issued on such flimsy grounds that even the magistrates now seem to be intimidated.
What does this tell us? Clearly, these important institutions are being transformed from independent institutions of the State to becoming institutions of the PNC/APNU regime. They have compromised their constitutional positions and are being transformed into tools of oppression of the APNU regime. It used to be the PNC flag in the bygone years; now it is the colour green!

Donald Ramotar
Former President