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Red House Saga: Former Speaker Ramkarran calls out Gov’t for double standards

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Former Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran writing in his weekly blog “The Conversation Tree” weighed in on the Red House Saga and has deduced that the Government, by attempting to evict staff of the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Incorporated (CJRCI) has displayed the “height of executive lawlessness.”

On December 30, 2016 staff allegedly of the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP) descended on the Red House and seized equipment, the padlock on the gate was changed, the CJRCI sign torn down and staff was prevented entry and exit from the building, among other orders.

Police intervention resulted in the sign being restored and the departure of the alleged MOTP staff.

In relation to this incident, Ramkarran noted that “no Government official has the power to dictate the expulsion of occupants of State or any other property. If the Government requires possession, it must obtain an order of the Court. That is the rule of law. It applies to the President, the Government and the citizen.”

The former Speaker said “the attempted unlawful seizure of Red House, unlawful restriction of the movement of the occupants and the unlawful sequestration of its property, bring back sad memories of times past when the rule of law in Guyana was being severely undermined as a result of political oppression and authoritarian rule.”

Ramkarran expressed hope that this event is not a foreboding of what will happen in 2017.

He clarified that the granting of a Conservatory order by the High Court means neither the Attorney General, nor his agents or anyone else, except CJRCI, was allowed to interfere with the property of CJRCI.

Ramkarran’s writing on the matter also suggests that the time frame given by President David Granger (48 hours) for the premises to be vacated was unreasonable.  “The CJRC had occupied the premises for about fifteen years and had accumulated a vast amount of material. Even trespassers are given longer periods to vacate premises by courts. In law, the period given must be reasonable. 48 hours could not be reasonable under any circumstances,” he stated.

Since President Granger’s decision to revoke the lease of the Red House was communicated publicly, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has registered its outrage and disappointment.

What was intended to be a peaceful candle light vigil resulted in a faceoff between PPP members and supporters and APNU+AFC supporters, even Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence was part of the counter protest.

The PPP is contending that the act by the Government in this regard is indicative of the Government’s “vindictive” political stance.

The PPP has also informed of its step to challenge this decision in the High Court.

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