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…Former President Granger lashes out at govt’s national security strategy
Former President David Granger said there appears to be a “deep state” made up of “an unelected, unofficial and unknown network” of persons guiding the Government’s security policy.
Appearing on his weekly programme – Public Interest – the former Head of State, himself a former National Security Adviser, said the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is taking Guyana down a dangerous road.
His concern comes at a time when Guyanese are left with many unanswered questions about the establishment of a Regional Joint Support Team (RJST), a crime fight unit, which was secretively established to offer support to the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). Government has been tight lipped on the RJST.
Granger said since taking office in August, 2021, the Irfaan Ali Administration has abused its powers. In support of his claim, the former Head of State referenced the decision not to confirm the appointment of the Commissioner of Police; dissolving the Police Service Commission; discrediting respected, retired senior officers; the unseemly officers’ promotions case before the High Court; the controversial Police Association elections scandal and the recruitment of outsiders to form a PR Unit to manage information.
These actions, the former president said, have damaged officers’ esprit-de-corps and demoralised ranks. “It’s all very damaging and there is bound to be consequences,” the former Head of State said.
Further, he condemned the decision to dismantle the National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA) and the Department of Citizenship at a time when trans-national crimes such as narcotics trafficking and human trafficking have become rampant again. In doing so, he referred to the discovery of crashed aircraft suspected of transporting cocaine near to Kwakwani and Orealla and the shipments of cocaine to northern Europe.
Granger also questioned what was responsible for the embarrassing Taiwan fiasco which came to light only after a public statement by a foreign embassy and the humiliating treatment of migrants from Haiti in comparison to the large number of migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and other countries.
He said that these events were indicators of the existence of “a deep state” which was making dangerous decisions, destroying the efficacy of legitimate law-enforcement agencies and taking the country back to the dark days of the ‘Troubles’ of the 2000s.
Last week, Political Scientist, Dr. David Hinds said Guyanese should not take lightly the move by the Government to secretly establish the RJST. He warned that it may be an attempt to transform paramilitary forces into formal institutions.
“I think it is an attempt aimed at transforming the paramilitary (phantom) forces from the previous PPP government into formal institutions—a case of bringing the phantoms out of the shadows into the formal State Apparatus. Note that the unit is located in the regions. That is quite significant,” Dr. Hinds told Village Voice News.
The Joint Services Council and the Home Affairs Ministry have condemned claims that the new regional security support team announced by Government will be another ‘black clothes squad.” The black clothes squad, which was formally known as the Target Special Squad, was notorious for allegedly committing a series of extra-judicial killings in the early 2000s. After much public pressure the unit was disbanded, but not after leaving a trail of bloodshed.
Dr. Hinds told Village Voice News that whenever a government acts in such a secretive manner, its actions are not accidental. He submitted that the establishment of the crime fight unit is a strategy by the government to ensure that it gets control of the country’s security apparatus. “The PPP has historically been paranoid about its inability to command the loyalty of the predominantly African Guyanese armed forces. When it returned to power in 1992, it attempted without much success to encourage Indian Guyanese to join the police and army. It then transitioned to a strategy of co-opting sections of the top leadership—a strategy that from all appearances that was more successful. But given the fact that favored officers have retired, it now has decided on a new strategy of creating new structures,” he further reasoned.
He said it was not so long ago that the Government during the Budget Debate signaled its intention to draft a legislation to create a new border patrol unit to supplement the GDF and the Police Force.
“I think this new Regional Joint Support Team is part of that larger initiative to create parallel security units to the established ones. This is taking the criminalization of the State to a higher level —a case of the formal fusion of the outlaw elements into the legal security architecture,” Dr. Hinds posited.
The situation, Dr. Hinds said, is worry on two fronts – it broadens the government domination praxis beyond the political executive to the armed forces, and it is the beginning of a new over-militarized State and Society.