Parliamentarians yet to be briefed on border security
Despite promises from GrangerDespite a promise being made to have the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) brief Members of Parliament (MPs) on the heightened security threat on the border; this is yet to be done, leaving the elected representatives of the people in as much darkness as the nation.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoDuring his weekly press conference on Friday, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo informed the media that President David Granger is yet to deliver on his promise to inform Parliament. The parliamentary Opposition has access to the Oversight Committee on the Security Sector through four of its MPs.“We’ve received nothing from Granger,” Jagdeo related. “He’s gone silent. He just said that in passing after being pressured as to why he is not treating this as a national issue, addressing the people of Guyana or the Parliament.”Jagdeo blasted the Government for failing to avail itself of the opportunity to do so at Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly; while noting that the next sitting is scheduled for April 26. However, the noted that there is nothing on the order paper pertaining to such a brief.On February 27, ahead of his visit to Baramita, Region One (Barima-Waini), President Granger had announced that he had instructed the GDF to brief the parliamentary committee on the steps being taken to secure communities located along the 800-kilometre border with Venezuela as a result of the unstable situation in that country. They were also supposed to be briefed in general on the ongoing border controversy.President David Granger during his visit to Region One last monthThe Head of State had also indicated that he expected even as Government continued to work at the central and regional levels to ensure security in the border regions, that civil society will continue to be fully briefed.Speaking during a brief interview, he had assured Guyanese that Government was concerned about security and was deeply involved in ensuring their safety.“At the Defence Board meeting that was held last Thursday, I instructed that the Guyana Defence Force should brief the parliamentary committee on security to let them know what preparations are taking place.And I expect that there will be full participation, both by members of the Government side and the Opposition side. If necessary, we will take this to civil society and I have already briefed the Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force that civil society must be aware of what is taking place. So, we are operating at different levels; we are operating at a local level in the villages, in the frontline villages themselves,” the Head of State was quoted by the Ministry of the Presidency as saying.President Granger referenced the Frontline Village Policy that was announced during his visit to Whitewater, also in Region One, earlier this month, which includes the setting up of military patrol bases and heightened 24-hour security by the GDF and the Guyana Police Force.The Commander-in-Chief, who chairs the Defence Board, has taken the lead in conducting outreaches to the frontline communities, to interact with residents and assure them of the Government’s commitment to their safety.The President explained that the unstable situation in Venezuela has resulted in a surge in illegal migration, which in itself, has the potential to open avenues for illegal activities such as gun-running and narco-trafficking.In 2015, the Government of Guyana requested then UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to take steps toward resolving the controversy. In 2016, as a consequence of a stalemate on the matter, the outgoing Ban Ki-moon agreed with his successor, António Guterres, to continue to use the Good Offices Process until the end of 2017 as a means of arriving at a settlement.That process expired in 2017-year end. It was ruled that the matter will engage the attention of the International Court of Justice, where a panel of distinguished Judges will hear Guyana’s case in The Hague, Netherlands based court. Government is currently making preparations for this.