Former President Ramotar to testify in Red House lease challenge

first_imgFormer President Donald Ramotar is expected to testify in the ongoing High Court challenge against President David Granger’s revocation of the 99-year lease granted to the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre (CJRC).Red HouseRamotar’s presence was requested by Attorney General Basil Williams on Friday when the matter was heard before acting Chief Justice Roxane George at the High Court.Attorney for the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre, Anil Nandlall, did not object to the former President taking the stand and as such, the Chief Justice granted the application.Ramotar, a former General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), had previously disclosed that he approved the 99-year lease in his capacity as President. When the matter is called again on November 1, Ramotar will be cross-examined on the granting of the lease.Former President Donald RamotarIn late December 2016, President David Granger gave the occupants of Red House 48 hours to vacate the premises. The Research Centre was established in 1999 to promote research into and publish materials on the life, work and ideas of the late President, Dr Cheddi Jagan. The prime land on which Red House sits was leased to the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Inc for 99 years for GY$12,000 per year.However, the coalition Administration was initially averse to the small fee being charged and had started engaging the Directors of the Research Centre on the possibility of transforming the Red House into a hub for all former Presidents.The Management Committee, which included former President Ramotar, had strongly objected to this move, and told the Government to find independent sites for the establishment of similar research centres for the other Guyanese leaders.According to Ramotar, former Presidents Desmond Hoyte and Forbes Burnham never shared the same ideology and philosophy of Dr Jagan and contended, therefore, it would be a “total dishonour” for Red House to be converted into a depository for all past Presidents. It was subsequent to these comments that AG Williams opined that the lease was invalid, after which President Granger moved to revoke the said lease.This eventually caused the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre Management Committee to approach the High Court for a declaration that the lease is valid and that the manner in which the President moved to revoke the lease was unconstitutional.In the meantime, the CJRC secured a conservatory order from the court, restraining the State from ejecting the tenants, taking possession of the property, or interfering with the Institute’s quiet and peaceful occupation of the premises. The order will be in effect until the end of the trial.last_img

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