BY MARK ARCHER
PNC Presidential candidate David Granger has said he will not respond at this time to the slanderous remarks made against him by President Jagdeo. Granger is an honorable man, an officer and a gentleman, a historian whose intellectual command of the facts under review far exceeds that of the current Chief Executive. But men and women of good will and investigative journalists should at least challenge the President when he wantonly defames someone who has honorably served this nation as a member of our Armed Forces.
Mr. Jagdeo, speaking at the commemorative services on the death anniversary of the late President Cheddie Jagan, Jagdeo said; “..who has blood on his hands because the people of Berbice; just here the people who were killed , protecting ballot boxes, protecting democracy were killed in full knowledge of people like Granger and the others who controlled the political directions at that time.”
As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, the president has access to the following facts; On July 16th 1973 David Granger was a 26 year old Major in Command of the Army Base at Atkinson Field ( now Timehri); Mr. Granger was a Base Commander at a location that anyone with a elementary knowledge of the geography of Guyana would knows is far removed from the Corentyne. On the 16th July1973 the Commander of the GDF was Colonel Ulric Pilgrim, the Chief of Staff was Brigadier Clarence Price. The officer in command at Number 63 Village was Lieutenant Joe Henry.
These are irrefutable facts that can be easily accessed by anyone. David Granger was not in command of the troops that were deployed to Berbice for the 1973 elections. Thirty nine years ago, twenty six year old David Granger was not part of the Army high command, he was a base commander at a location far removed from any of the election violence that is now being laid at his feet.
In 1979 David Granger was appointed Commander of the Guyana Defense Force, a position he held until he retired in 1990. His tenure as Army Commander is fair game for those who want to scrutinize his ability and conduct in office.
The Army is loyal to the government of the day and Mr. Jagdeo now enjoys the same loyalty like his predecessors did. The orders that were given on July 16th 1973, came directly from the Defense Board. That order commanded ranks of the GDF to engage in operations in support of the national elections; providing security, and logistical assistance as needed to the civil power.
It was similar to the order that was given by President Jagdeo as head of the Defense Board to the GDF to engage in operations in Buxton. In the execution of both operations people died, but it is instructive what happened in the aftermath. After the 1973 operations, there was an internal board of inquiry conducted by the GDF and a Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Dhanessar Jhappan.
The commission and the board found that the use of deadly force was justified. There has been no board or commissions into any of the GDF operations during the Jagdeo regime where the security forces have used deadly force against civilians. Yet Jagdeo has the temerity to accuse Granger of having blood on his hands. This is a President who incites his supporters to violence by telling them to stop being passive.. “ The psychopaths who killed the Lusignan residents must be hunted down and killed, there should be no equivocation about this” Days earlier in remarks to the Police conference the President said; “If someone points a gun at you….you must shoot to kill.”
Compare that to Mr. Granger who has said that we need to have the past investigated and where things are proven to be wrong or illegal… let the inquiry speak. Granger is prepared to examine the performance of all the administrations from 1957 to the present day; he wants this nation to put these ghosts to rest. My fellow Guyanese, one of these men sounds extremely Presidential, the other a mere rabble rouser, you be the judge.