In wake of several attacks on past and present members of the Guyana Defence Force and the Force itself on the political platform by the governing People’s Progressive Party, Chief of Staff of the GDF, Brigadier General Mark Phillips has been traveling to the various army bases to brief his troops about their role and the role of the Guyana Defence Force.
According to a release from the GDF, Brigadier Phillips commenced his address to servicemen and women by stating that “contrary to what has been peddled nationally, the Guyana Defence Force is a professional organisation and remains the stable band in the society”.
“Service to the nation remains our motto,” he added.
The People’s Progressive Party Civic has has been focusing much of its attention on the campaign trail to the Guyana Defence Force. The party is up against the APNU+AFC coalition which is being led by retired Brigadier of the GDF, David Granger and which has been receiving widespread support from other retired Chiefs of Staff and senior officers.
During the PPP’s rally at Albion on Sunday, supporters there were told that Guyana would become a military state once Granger becomes President.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo also told the Albion supporters that “when they link up with the Military and come into your homes and start kicking the doors down and when they come after you, who is going to be there…?”
That statement and others by leading members of the PPP caused widespread unease within the Guyana Defence Force.
Brigadier Phillips told the members of the GDF that they have a civic responsibility as citizens to exercise their franchise during national elections by casting their vote and “you are free to vote for whichever person or political party you choose, since it is your Constitutional right. However, do not allow anyone to make that decision for you. Your vote and who you cast it for is your personal and private choice!”
However, the members of the GDF were reminded that it was unprofessional to exhibit any form of campaigning on any military base.
“Guyana is still being governed by President Donald Ramotar who was duly elected to the Presidency. He is still the Commander in Chief of the military, and in that regard, still has the right to give instructions to the military,” he said,
“Ex military officers also have the right to participate in the political activities of Guyana. We respect their service to Guyana. However, our current operational decision-making is not influenced by ex military officers. We take orders from the duly elected president of Guyana, our Commander in Chief, President Donald Ramotar,” he added
The Chief of Staff explained that there will be a large number of representatives from several countries and International bodies in Guyana during the elections period, serving as Observers, and repeated his concern that the highest level of professionalism must be
Military personnel and other members of the Joint Services will cast their ballots on Saturday, May 2.
Military personnel will be confined from May 6, in preparation for deployment in support of the Guyana Police Force as becomes necessary.
It is traditional for the military to vote several days ahead of the general public so that troops can be available for service to the nation as need be, during, and even after the period of National Elections are over.
Some military members who are not happy with the attacks by the PPP have been posting their oath of allegiance on Facebook and other social media pages.