Guyana: Govt orders police to arrest Georgetown Mayor for defending black vendors
Guyana: Govt orders police to arrest Georgetown Mayor for defending black vendors

Guyana: Senior sources in the Guyana Police Force tonight confirmed that the Guyana Police have been instructed by the government to arrest the Mayor of Georgetown Mayor, Pandit Ubraj Narine. Narine blocked a team of Police Officers and Ministry of Public Works employees from tearing down the stalls of vendors in the vicinity of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation on New Market Street in Georgetown last night. The confrontation unfolded on live television.

The team from the Public Works Ministry, which was noticeably accompanied only by Afro-Guyanese ranks, swooped down on the vendors just before midnight on Monday, December 12, 2022, and dismantled and uprooted the stalls and placed the debris in several trucks. This angered the vendors who pay the Georgetown Mayor and City Council a fee to vend pursuant to municipal regulation.

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City Council Member Shondell Smith-Daniels could be heard warning the officers that the vendors pay fees to the Council to vend and that the Government cannot remove them without consulting with the City Council. She condemned the government’s actions as wicked, racist and high handed.

The vendors summoned the Mayor to the scene. He became visibly angry when he saw the inhumane and contemptuous manner in which the Police and Works Ministry employees were treating the mostly female vendors. Narine angrily called on the Police to stop the operation.

Although the Mayor instructed that the operation be halted, the Police told the Mayor that they were following orders from the government. The confrontation escalated when cops began clearing a path for the dismantled stalls to be placed on waiting trucks. This caused a heated exchange of words between Mayor Narine and the Police.

Mayor Narine then threw himself on the road in the path of the truck to stop it from taking away the vendors’ property,. he asked how they can do this to poor people? Several vendors joined him to also lay on the road. One Police officer was overheard telling the truck driver to drive while Mayor Narine was standing right in front of the truck, implying that the driver should run over the Mayor. This prompted onlookers to demand that the driver stop driving and not allow himself to be set up by the Police to hit the Mayor.

The confrontation escalated further, causing several opposition APNU-AFC politicians to rush to the scene. Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, as well as Members of Parliament Sherod Duncan, host of popular social media Talk Show, In The Ring, and as Senior Counsel, Roysdale Ford, later arrived at the scene and engaged the Police. Duncan threw himself under the truck. Eventually, the tense situation deescalated when workers began off loading the stalls back to their original places on the ground and left, saying they were told to stand down.

Mayor Narine later told reporters that the PPP government was racist and was mistreating the vendors because they were Afro-Guyanese. He also accused President Irfaan Ali of lying to Guyanese and the international community about his government’s One Guyana policy when the government is in fact committing racial discrimination against African-Guyanese on a daily bases. He blasted the government for destroying the vendors’ stalls during the Christmas season.

Under the laws of Guyana the central government has no justification over municipal roads. Government only has control of declared public roadways. New Market Street is not a declared Public road. It is a municipal road. The Ministry’s operation was therefore illegal. This observation was emphasized by former APNU-AFC Minister of Public Infrastructure Minister David Paterson, in a Facebook post late today.

All day Tuesday the government mobilized various support groups to attack the Mayor, including the government aligned Guyana Private Sector Commission. The government also sent a few paid protesters to picket outside the Mayor’s office. However, the government protesters quickly dispersed after a group of APNU-AFC supporters arrived to mount a counter protest.

Mayor Narine has for months been calling for a collaborative relationship with the government to address the issues affecting the City. Nonetheless, the government has obdurately flouted its constitutional obligations to consult with the Mayor and City Council, as well as all other local government councils governed by the opposition APNU-AFC Coalition. Some have accused the PPP government of attempting to create a one party, East Indian state that is a dictatorship.

Tonight a Coalition spokesperson warned that the government is only going after the Mayor because he is an East Indian who is fighting for the rights of black vendors. The spokesperson said that the PPP regime wants to overrun the Georgetown Municipality to show contempt to the mostly Afro-Guyanese residents of the City, and attacked the government for using the police to settle political scores.

The opposition Politician said the Government is “provoking a war with Black citizens in Guyana and that people expect that the government will soon do everything in its power to incite unrest to get another opportunity to send the Police to gun down our Afro-Guyanese young people.

A spokesperson for Mayor Narine has confirmed to GNN that Police are seeking to arrest the Mayor, and warned that the unjust arrest of the Mayor will most certainly create political instability.