GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 24, CMC- Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee says he will not resign his post as a result of the protest action in the mining town of Linden that resulted in the deaths of three people.
In fact, Rohee has told the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) that he had been given an assurance prior to the police clashing with the protestors last week that no live ammunition would have been used.
Last Wednesday, three people were shot and killed as residents protested the increase hikes in electricity rates that followed a decision by the Donald Ramotar administration to cut the estimated three-billion-dollar (One Guyana Dollar =US$0.004 cents) subsidy to the Linden Electricity Company Incorporated (LECI) by one third.
In addition, the bauxite pensioners say they no longer enjoy 300 Kilowatt-hours (KWh) free electricity but will be provided 50 KWh free and have been told they would have to pay for the remainder at existing market rates for other customers.
There have been calls for Rohee to step down and on Monday, attorney Nigel Hughes, an executive member of the opposition Alliance for Change (AFC) called a motion of no confidence to be briught before the National Assembly.
“My position on Mr. Rohee is that the combined opposition should before the end of the week move a motion of no confidence in the Minister of Home Affairs and that is my personal position. Before the end of this week the combined opposition should demonstrate to this nation that Mr. Rohee does not enjoy the confidence of the majority of this nation in discharging his functions as Home Affairs Minister,” Hughes said.
But Rohee told MCN that he wasn’t on the scene at the time nor did he instructed the police on what actions to take to quell the disturbances.
“I would continue to serve the people of Guyana, my conscience is very clear, with respect to this matter. I am prepared to face the Commission of Inquiry anytime if I’m called.”
The government has said that it would initiate a Commission of Inquiry into the matter and the police last week issued a statement clarifying that the actions that were taken on July 18 were not prompted by any politician.
During his interview, Rohee said he had held discussions with senior law enforcement officials prior to last week’s tragic and was given the assurance that live ammunition would not have been used in deterring the Linden protestors.
He said that tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons could have been used to restore order and that live ammunition is not catered for anywhere in the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), in a situation such as this.
While he expressed regret at the loss of lives, Rohee said “ to say that the SOPs were followed, I would say yes, but only up to a point which I saw in the footage, the rest I cannot vouch for, the inquiry will allow for a full assessment of what took place”.
Senior Superintendent, Clifton Hicken who was the commanding officer at the time of the shooting, has since been removed and replaced by Assistant Commander, Gavin Primo.
Rohee insisted that the demonstrations were politically motivated, saying “anyone living in Guyana who is following public statements and political activism of these individuals would recognise the role that they have been playing over the years in every anti-government activity; either in front of the Office of the President, Police Force Headquarters, and other public places, they are always protesting some matter which they felt aggrieved about.”