Police called in as Lethem Mayor, RDC clash over hoisting of regional flag
By Devina Samaroo
A public spat erupted between the Lethem Mayor, Carlton Beckles and the Chairman of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Nine, Brian Allicock over the hoisting of the proposed regional flag during, a local event to usher in Independence Day (May 26, 2017).
Beckles wanted to raise the emblem alongside the Golden Arrowhead on Independence Eve but the Regional Chairman disapproved, thus igniting a public confrontation.
Upon observing that a soldier was preparing the flag on a pole for hoisting at midnight, the RDC Chairman proceeded to enquire who had given the permission to do same and also to caution the military not to continue in mounting the proposed flag.
The RDC said it wrote to the disciplined forces indicating that the proposed flag must not be hoisted since consultations are still ongoing with members of the region on the matter.
At this point, the Lethem Mayor intervened and insisted that the flag must be displayed as approved by the Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan.
Beckles told News Room during a telephone interview that the venue for the event falls under the municipality of Lethem and therefore, the RDC has no say about what should be done.
He also argued that during the regional conference earlier this year, which was boycotted by the opposition regional representatives, the government encouraged the regions to display, discuss and make a decision on the regional flag.
The Lethem Mayor pointed out that consultations were already held in Lethem and residents supported the introduction of the flag. However, in the same breath, he chided the RDC for the sloth in consultations with the other villages in the region regarding the regional symbol.
He also noted that permission was granted from the Communities Minister for the flag to be raised on Independence Eve. “What we decided, seeing that it was not the final flag, we will not hoist it simultaneously with the Guyana flag, but a lil while after then that flag would have gone up. So we hoisted it at 12:30,” he explained.
But the Mayor said on Independence Day, the flag was removed and he subsequently learnt that it the RDC was responsible for taking it down.
As a result, he filed a police report and an investigation has been launched.
“We gave statements in relation to unauthorised removals, damage of property of the Government of Guyana in a public space,” he stated.
On the other hand, the RDC contended that it is a regional event and therefore, the Lethem Mayor has no authority in deciding what should be done.
“The RDC is dissatisfied and disgusted at the Mayor’s unspeakable attitude which does not goes down well for what the Government perceived objective of social cohesion is,” the Council said in a statement.
The RDC is also demanding a public apology from the Mayor.
Meanwhile, the RDC noted that a letter was also written to the Communities Minister seeking an extension of time to present the final draft and or the acceptance of the flag by the villages.
The RDC said it is plagued with inadequate resources to expeditiously conduct the consultations and that “it is very difficult and costly to get from one village to the other, hence, the extension.”