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Events leading up to the visit of President Irfaan Ali and team to Belladrum, West Coast Berbice, have attracted criticism of villagers.
Villagers acknowledged whilst Ali is the President and free to travel throughout the length and breadth of Guyana, as is every citizen, they would have appreciated him informing the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDCs) of his visit, particularly that it was government business, as against political campaigning.
The concern has been expressed that the president may have no regard for the function and role of the NDCs, particularly in areas not seen as the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) strongholds.
Villagers told Village Voice Guyana has three tiers of government and they should be operating as a team not as adversaries. This is the first, villagers said, a president has entered the NDC, bypassing the chairman. There was a similar complaint by residents of Mocha-Arcadia a few weeks back. Those residents expressed their displeasure that the president not only visited the community without prior notification of Chairman Rudolph Adams, but when the chairman was making a presentation at the meeting he was shouted down by the president.
According to the Belladrum villagers on Friday October 14 at approximately 08:30 a.m. they were alerted of the president’s pending community meeting at 10:30 a.m on the said day. It was around the same time the NDC Chairman Mr. Emile Wilson was informed of the meeting which was held at the Community Development Council’s building at Eldorado.
Villagers are also contending the PPP’s community agents broke the locks on the gate and Community Development Council’s building to gain access. They feel instead of breaking into the building, the caretaker of the building should have been informed of the need to use the premises.
Reportedly the building was ransacked, filing cabinets and doors were left opened. The NDC Chairman was also unaware of the actions taken by the PPP agents. Villagers said when the chairman was updated on what took place he informed the Regional Executive Officer, Ms. Blackman, and was advised the Regional Democratic Council will replace the locks.
Residents are saying though they welcome the visit, they are peeved by the level of disrespect shown towards the NDC, CDC management and inadequate notice of the President’ visit.
Community leaders opined that no meaningful opportunity was allowed for consultation with their constituencies prior to the almost unannounced visit. Villagers also deemed the visit wasteful and a charade since only an insignificant amount of residents were in attendance and no significant commitment was given by the president.