More details should be given of proposed power sharing mechanism
Stabroek News
July 30, 2001

Dear Editor,

In reference to David Hinds' letter,[ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] "Dialogue is not enough, power sharing is needed" (SN July 23, 2001), I readily understand his line of reasoning, just as I have done with similar views heretofore expressed, but I am yet to grasp the structure or format such a seemingly ideal situation would take.

Mr. Hinds did attempt a two-point recommendation dealing with the 'equitable distribution of decision-making responsibilities in cabinet and Parliament', and the emergence of 'programmes to arrest' a litany of social ailments and maladies, but these did not seem to go far enough in dealing with the core issue of power sharing: which party wields final authority in what type of structure, with guiding rules that can be recognized in a court of law?

Understandably, the PPP/Civic may not be willing to accept power sharing for the reasons Mr. Hinds highlighted, (and these seem to be an analysis of the local political jousting between two fierce opponents), but especially because of the PPPs long wait in the political wilderness during the PNCs reign.

It continues to boggle my mind, however, that, even though I fully support the results of the 2001 elections, the present government seems determined to openly feed into the fears (real or perceived) of Afro-Guyanese by continuing to 'Indianise' its hierarchy. If placating its constituents (mostly Indo-Guyanese) is the aim, that is all fine by me, but a certain level of commonsense should enable the leadership to feel the political winds and wisely choose a broader/wider mixture of all Guyanese to serve in positions of authority and prominence.

Have a system in place to measure the performance of those called on to serve 'their country' (not the party in government), and let the nation know when appointees fail to measure up, resulting in them being transferred, demoted or, if absolutely necessary, dismissed.

At this juncture, it is no longer about elections, it is about governing wisely, and if the government is to render useless the concept of power sharing, (which should not even be on the table), it should start looking aggressively outside the Indo-Guyanese community for 'other faces'. Otherwise, it may make the power sharing call look more and more reasonable and like a definite option forced upon it.

However, what is uncertain is what a power sharing government in Guyana would look like, with both benefits and backlashes taken into consideration?

Who will have the final say in the appointment of cabinet ministers and other senior government functionaries, including diplomatic postings? How will the cabinet be formed -- two-thirds for the winning party and one-third for the losing party? What about the other parties that do well at the polls?

And with power sharing, will there be a need for future elections, national and regional? Will the electorate continue to view 'their party' as currently obtains -- largely along racial lines? If so, then what is the point of power sharing? Who will serve as 'referee' should the power sharers disagree and the government is forced to consider folding or terminating the agreement?

Only recently the PNC/R broke off its dialogue with the PPP/C over the interim measures to regulate local broadcasting operations, so could this well be a sign of its attitudinal approach should it disagree in a power sharing system? Maybe the PNC/R is not amenable to the 'PS' idea being floated.

To which arm of the power sharing government will the army and police be answerable? Likewise, which arm will the service commissions recognize should the government be split on an issue of relevance to the commissions? What about the labour movement and the private sector's views?

Most important of all, what does the majority of the electorate think, today, of power sharing, whether it is presented in a well-structured format, or as it is now -- a mere concept? I quite agree with PNC/R Leader, Desmond Hoyte, that power sharing means different things to different people.

I have read Mike McCormack's letter ("Too many people are searching for a systemic solution which does not involve an adjustment of their own attitudes") and was not surprised to learn that nothing new emerged from the WPA-sponsored power-sharing symposium of July 19, last.

Perhaps a WPA version of the event will shed more light, but what are we to expect if the two major players - PPP/C and PNC/R - were not fully represented at the highest level? Is there a subtle message in their absence from the symposium?

Yours faithfully

Emile Mervin