Police promotions delay necessary pending outcome of assassination COI – President

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By Devina Samaroo

Though it is not the main reason for his decision to halt police promotions, President David Granger on Thursday confirmed that an administrative delay was necessary, pending the outcome of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the alleged plot to assassinate him.

In a move that has been labeled unconstitutional, Granger in a letter signed by State Minister Joseph Harmon, instructed the Police Services Commission (PSC)– an independent body – from proceeding with the promotions of officers in the Guyana Police Force.

The President told reporters that the recently concluded COI played a role in his decision to delay the promotions.

“It would be good practice to await the findings of such an inquiry before taking any administrative action and I think it is understood on the part of the senior officers of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) that once something is being investigated, there should be an administrative delay until the findings are published,” he explained.

But the President maintained that the main reason was because of serious complaints he received from police officers.

“I have written to the PSC asking to await the outcomes of those complaints from the senior officers and other persons who are interested before we came to a conclusion about those promotions,” he stated.

The President was unsure of when he will give the green light for the Commission to move ahead with the promotions.

News Room had reported that senior officers whose name were either mentioned or called to testify at the COI were among the names recommended for promotion.

The list of persons tipped for promotions included: Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations) Clifton Hicken for Deputy Commissioner of Police; Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum, for Assistant Commissioner; Head of Special Branch, Brian Eastman, for Senior Superintendent of Police; Head of Major Crimes Unit, Assistant Superintendent Mitchell Caeser, for Deputy Superintendent; and SWAT Unit leader, Deputy Superintendent Lonsdale Withrite, for Superintendent. Withrite was not a subject of the Commission of inquiry.

A private citizen, represented by opposition aligned attorney Anil Nandlall, has since legally challenged the constitutionality of the President’s decision to pass instructions to the Police Commission.

Former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee had also condemned the actions of the Head of State, warning that the government is using the COI to denigrate the reputations of senior officers of the Police Force in an effort to set the stage for a major shakeup in the hierarchy.

The President today received the report from the COI from its Commissioner Paul Slowe and he promised to make the document public soonest.

Granger, in brief remarks after receiving the report, maintained that the COI was necessary and condemned public officials who made a mockery of the exercise.

The COI was launched after the President was not satisfied with the progress the Police Force was making in relation to its probe into the alleged plot to assassinate him.

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