A legal review has been launched into recent statements made by members of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), which have been branded as “racist and inciting” by various government officials and civil society groups. Speaking to the press on Thursday, Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn described the statements as “frankly seditious” and warned that the law would take its course if such language was found to be illegal.
Benn, alongside President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, and members of the private sector and civil society, has roundly condemned the WPA’s statements. The minister added that such language is harmful to the country and its people and that it cannot be permitted in a democratic society with a functioning Parliament and legal system.
“We should not allow persons to vicariously, in a crowded hall of people shout fire or call one set of people to attack another set of people… or to suggest that persons who have arms in a formal discipline service area to turn those against the state or against their fellow Guyanese,” Benn stated.
He also highlighted that there are parliamentary and legal avenues for organisations to pursue if they have grievances and that statements of this nature can have serious consequences for the stability of the country.
The Minister referred to the period leading up to March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections, when “some persons who were in uniform did things which were not lawful, democratic in relation to our country.” He stressed that Guyana had moved beyond that issue and that it was crucial not to return to that sort of behaviour.
The legal review of the WPA’s statements is ongoing, and more information is expected to emerge in due course.