New Army Chief says GDF will only support democratically elected Governments

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Brigadier Godfrey Bess on Wednesday officially assumed command of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and in his initial remarks to the media, he made it clear that the GDF will only offer its support to democratically elected Governments.

The question was put to the new Chief of Staff (ag) about the GDF’s position on democracy in the hemisphere and in response, he reminded that the GDF has always been subordinate to civil societies and maintains a supportive role to civil authorities.

“We are trained to support the democratically elected Government of the day based on the Constitution and that we will continue to do,” Brigadier Bess said.

He explained that the Army, in its subordinate role to civil society, also relies on legal advice and takes legal instructions.

Chief of Staff (ag) of the GDF, Brigadier Godfrey Bess [Photo: Ministry of the Presidency/July 1, 2020]
When pressed further on his new role as Army Chief and the GDF’s support for any domestic political party that forms a Government but was not democratically elected, Brigadier Bess replied “the GDF is a professional organisation and we will stick to the Constitution of Guyana.

His comments come amid Guyana’s ongoing election impasse where after four months, Guyanese are still awaiting a declaration of the winner from the March 02, 2020 elections.

The new Army Chief received his promotion to Brigadier and instrument appointing him as Chief of Staff from President and Head of the Defence Board, David Granger at State House on Wednesday.

He replaces Brigadier Patrick West who has already proceeded on pre-retirement leave and was notably absent from Wednesday’s ceremonial activity. Brigadier West’s leave comes to an end in March 2021.

Brigadier Bess said he accepts the appointment with energy and intends to execute his duties as he is mandated by the laws to do.

He talked up training for ranks and the protection of the country’s patrimony and borders amid anticipation that there will be challenges.

The new Army Chief received his promotion to Brigadier and instrument appointing him as Chief of Staff from President and Head of the Defence Board, David Granger at State House [Photo: Ministry of the Presidency/July 1, 2020]
That challenge he said is likely to be one associated with adequate resources to perform tasks.

“And what do we do? What do we do when resources are minimal? Our training that we receive helps us to create opportunities to fight against those challenges… so training in the Guyana Defence Force we take it seriously and it helps us in these times of challenges,” he added.

Meanwhile, President David Granger called on the new Chief of Staff to collaborate and work with the general staff to ensure that the transformation that has begun in the GDF continues to finality.

President Granger interacts with members of the security forces at State House [Photo: Ministry of the Presidency/July 1, 2020]
He impressed on him the qualities of leadership and management and said those qualities cannot be mandated by law.

The President said the Government intends to ensure that succession planning is maintained and offered his support and that of the Defence Board to the new Army Chief.

The President also wished Brigadier Patrick West a happy retirement.

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