President suspends protocol officer following cricket security breaches
By Andre Haynes
April 12, 2007
Lieutenant Colonel Francis Abraham, the Office of the President's Director of Protocol, has been suspended after he walked off from his assignment during the last CWC 2007 match at the Providence Cricket Stadium, on Monday.
President Bharrat Jagdeo told reporters at a news conference yesterday that Abraham was "sent home until further notice" but there is no decision on "what to do with him as yet." Jagdeo denied a report in another section of the media that Abraham was disciplined as a result of an incident involving First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo, although he mentioned that her companions had breached security at the Presidential Suite during one of the matches. Jagdeo yesterday promised to address the long-standing speculation about a rift between him and the First Lady in the next two weeks.
Abraham, who served as Aide-de-Camp (ADC) for late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan and former President Janet Jagan, could not be reached by Stabroek News for comment last evening.
According to President Jagdeo, Abraham left after being directed out of the President's Suite following complaints that there had been continuous security breaches during the matches. "I said 'go downstairs' and he proceeded to leave the place… he left with the tickets and everything," Jagdeo said, adding that as a result people who were supposed to be allowed entry to the Suite could not get in.
Jagdeo said the President's Suite was to have been a secure area, and he expected as much after observing that security was tight all around the Providence Stadium. He noted that Opposition Leader Robert Corbin was not allowed his security officer, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds was only allowed one security officer, while he pared his own security detail down to two men, who were given invitations so that they were not standing around all of the time.
First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo
Nevertheless, Jagdeo said there were security breaches every day as "tens of people" who were not accredited found their way into the area. He said many people said they had been using a lift from another suite. He also mentioned an instance where he was standing with Foreign Trade Minister Henry Jeffrey and a staffer from one of the foreign embassies approached him to have a photograph taken, although it had been clear that the invitation sent to the Ambassador and his spouse was non-transferable. As a result, Jagdeo said he complained to Abraham that the breaches should not have occurred since both he and the Foreign Affairs Minister's Protocol Officer were there. He said Abraham made an excuse, saying that the security personnel downstairs did not know the people and did not bar them. "I said, 'you know the people… go downstairs," Jagdeo said. "He was there to work, not to watch the cricket," Jagdeo declared.
'Two weeks notice'
Although a Capitol News report fed speculation that Abraham was disciplined for refusing to transmit a directive from the President to the First Lady, the Head-of-State said it had nothing to do with that. "There were some issues… some one who came with my wife… some people," Jagdeo disclosed, before going into an explanation of how he was forced to ask a couple to take their child out of the Suite, since persons under 18 were not allowed inside. "I shouldn't be doing that as President," he said, adding that it would not have looked good for the country in eyes of the International Cricket Council, "if they see us breaching the things…"
There has been continuing public conjecture over the President's relationship with the First Lady, since they rarely appear in public together. Further, during the incident at the Providence Stadium, they did not sit with each other. As a result, the President was asked whether there is a rift between them, to which he offered a deliberately coy reply. "I will deal with that within two weeks time," he said, smilingly adding, "...Obviously you heard more, something that I have said before, but within two weeks you will hear more."
According to the Government Information Agency (GINA) website, Abraham was commissioned in the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) as a Second Lieutenant on February 15, 1983 and after 19 years of service was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on January 1, 2002.
In 1989, he served overseas as the Administrative Officer of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Contingent during the Disaster Relief Operation in Antigua and Barbuda.
After holding both command and Staff appointments in the Guyana Defence Force, Abraham was appointed the ADC to late President Jagan in October 1992. He served in that capacity to former President Janet Jagan and later to President Jagdeo, before being made Director of Protocol at the OP. He was awarded the Military Medal, the Border Defence Medal and the 25th Anniversary Medal. In 2003 he was nominated for the Military Service Medal.