Chronicle columnists’ firing…adds WPA tired of being disregardedLongtime Working People’s Alliance (WPA) activist, former Member of Parliament Desmond Trotman, revealed that it was a senior Alliance for Change (AFC) Minister who contacted the Guyana Chronicle’s Editor in Chief and related Cabinet’s dissatisfaction with the writings of columnists David Hinds and Lincoln Lewis.During a televised programme on Sunday, Trotman said the Chronicle’s assault on press freedom began sometime earlier, and rose to climax with the firing of Lewis and Hinds.“The previous Chairman of the Guyana Chronicle was at odds with the other members of the Board, because he wanted the Chronicle to go in a certain direction and members of the Board objected to that, and I think it led to his resignation. That person holds a high positon in the Prime Minister’s Office, and I sense that he wields tremendous influence,” Trotman said.“I suspect that he belongs to the same party that the Prime Minister belongs to; and so when I was told that a senior minister who belongs to the AFC…was one of the persons who conveyed to the editor in chief of the Chronicle that there is dissatisfaction within the Cabinet about the direction that those two columnists were going…,” he posited.Since Chronicle’s EIC, Nigel Williams, fired Lewis and Hinds, several executives of the WPA have come out condemning the actions of the state newspaper. WPA’s Tacuma Ogunseye has since expressed the opinion that his party should leave the coalition, since its views are being silenced. He has been very vocal in the media.In this regard, Trotman said he would have had discussions with at least two high ranking People’s National Congress (PNC) officials who have since expressed their support for the views of Ogunseye.He noted that although the WPA issued a firm statement on what that party thought is the denial of press freedom, it was Ogunseye’s letters to the local press that generated the interest in the matter.The former MP explained that the Government is forcing its supporters away with its attempt to stifle criticisms of its policy direction.“When you go in that direction (of silencing your critics) you’re forcing people to go underground and take positions life-threatening to this thing we call the coalition… When we sat down to discuss what led to the formation of the APNU, we took a whole range of things into consideration, and those views were represented in the Statement of Principles of the Party. We were concerned about the trampling of press freedom, and we swore (that) in a new dispensation that will not happen,” Trotman noted.Meanwhile, also appearing on the programme was Ogunseye, who noted that the WPA, despite being a founding member of the APNU Coalition, does not have any “effective places” in the Cabinet; and, as such, depends on the inclusiveness of coalition politics.“I think that when an issue becomes an issue, where those in the Cabinet feel that they got to take action, the first place they were supposed to come to is to assemble the party and say these two columnists creating problems, and have a debate on it, and let (us) see how we could deal with it,” Ogunseye said.“It is this high-handedness of the Cabinet…I don’t understand it politically. You’re not giving the political process a chance to alter behaviour; because you got the power to make things happen the way you want them to happen, you exercise that power and everybody must shut their mouth. I mean if that’s not dictatorship, then what is it?” he questioned.Ogunseye has explicitly stated he would not stand up and let Guyana slip into a dictatorship-styled Government, because he, along with others, would have fought against that. He also called on the APNU and President David Granger to deliver the type of governance it promised its supporters.Williams wrote to Hinds and Lewis, informing them that their contracts will be terminated effective March 12, 2018 in an effort to rebrand the state newspaper. The duo have since called the Government out as being the one who made the decision to have them fired because of their critique of its performance.
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