Guyana president trying to spread calm after Linden unrest
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Monday July 23, 2012 – Over the weekend, Guyana President Donald Ramotar met with the entire diplomatic community in Guyana, including development agencies and their heads, in order to brief them on developments in relation to Linden, and efforts by the government regarding the civil unrest that occurred and is still occurring there.
This followed a meeting on Friday between Ramotar and a team of government officials with opposition political party members and key stakeholders at the national and regional levels, including representatives of the Linden Chamber of Commerce, to calm fears that the unrest could escalate.
What started off as a peaceful protest last Wednesday (July 18) against government’s decision increase electricity tariffs in Linden turned ugly as several buildings and vehicles were burnt and roads into and out of the town were blocked. During clashes with police that same day, three people were killed and several others injured in the mining town.
The government in a statement on the day said it sincerely regrets the loss of lives and injuries as events took an unfortunate turn for the worse but, reiterated that the gradual increase in tariffs for Linden did not warrant such violent behaviour.
“The government reaffirms the right of people to peaceful protest and one that is protected in our country; however, disorder and mayhem which threaten life and property cannot be tolerated,” the statement said.
During the meetings concerns about the security situation in Linden were shared and Ramotar once again pledged to have a full investigation of the situation through an independent Commission of Inquiry, which the government had committed to since the night of the unrest.
At a press conference on Friday evening, Ramotar stated that his administration was open to further discussion on the electricity tariff increase.
He also called on other political parties, in particular A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), and others said to be representing Linden, but who may not be Lindeners, to get the situation under control so that normalcy could be returned.
Presidential advisor, Gail Teixeira, said the president reiterated to the diplomats and the heads of development agencies and made it clear that “we are prepared to talk about the tariff increases, and that we want the situation settled but, we also need to find a situation where Linden has to come on board in terms of the electricity rates. It is not a case where there is no increase at all.”