Parties willing to continue talks with facilitator

Guyana Chronicle
January 22, 2000

THE People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) yesterday responded to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) about its willingness to have the continued use of a facilitator in the political dialogue between the two major parties.

Head of the party's dialogue team, Mr Donald Ramotar said he did not receive a letter from CARICOM on the issue until he learnt that one was sent to President Bharrat Jagdeo.

Ramotar said the party does not object to having former Attorney General and Foreign Minister of Barbados, Mr Maurice King return, or a replacement.

Of course, he said, the two sides, the PPP/Civic and the main opposition People's National Congress (PNC) will have to agree to whoever is the replacement person, if there is to be one.

Head of the PNC team, Mr Lance Carberry said his party has no objection to renewing King's tenure either, but agreed that the option of the two sides speaking without a facilitator was never a closed option.

He explained that for example there is a bilateral feature in the dialogue, but noted that the two sides are now caught up with the wider issue of constitution reform.

"We would hope if it (the inter-party talks) resume, it would be in a mode that is results oriented," he offered.

Carberry said there is still an agenda of items not exhausted and the PNC's priority items have not changed.

"We still think the issue of land and house lot distribution has to be resolved," he added.

The talks ended last month with agreement for the formation of an Ethnic Relations Commission.

Prime Minister of St Lucia, Dr Kenny Anthony who visited Guyana last October expressed disappointment at the pace of the inter-party talks between the PPP/Civic and the PNC.

King, the mediator for the inter-party talks, ended his second stint here last month and has not indicated whether he is willing to continue or not.

He was sent here in September 1998 by CARICOM to mediate talks between the PPP/Civic and the PNC. His contract was renewed in March last year.

Prime Minister Anthony was assigned the responsibility by the CARICOM Heads in July last year to oversee the implementation of two CARICOM-brokered "peace" deals signed between the two major political parties in 1998.

The January Herdmanston Accord and July St Lucia Statement envisage political dialogue between the two major parties.

The two parties signed the two documents amid rising tensions and violence sparked by PNC anti-government street protests in Georgetown.

The documents were signed by Anthony, then CARICOM Chairman, leader of the PNC Mr Desmond Hoyte and former President, Mrs Janet Jagan. (MICHELLE ELPHAGE)

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