Republic anniversary pledges

Guyana Chronicle
February 23, 2000

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo's pledge to stay the path of trying to cleanse the society of crime and related ills, in his message to mark today's 30th anniversary of the Republic reflects a sober acceptance of the realities and challenges his government faces.

This is indeed a time to salute the heroes and martyrs of the nation and to "recommit ourselves as a nation to realise their dreams."

But the observances and celebrations would amount to nothing if at the milestone stock is not taken of the stark realities of the day.

The signs are that all is not well and efforts have to be redoubled to narrow the divide in words and deeds and to rid the society of the ills that continue to drag it down.

The President is right in maintaining his approach of reaching out to the government's opponents and detractors and his keeping open the invitation for talks ("constructive engagement") is a welcome gesture in the national interest.

"If in the past we have not understood each other, let us from now on go forward boldly to be Guyanese, think Guyanese and act Guyanese.

"Ours must be a thinking and acting that place our nation first and carve out a pride of place in the world for our Guyana - our common home", Mr Jagdeo has appealed in the Mashramani address to the nation.

It is a timely message and an appeal to decency and common sense.

Sometimes it is hard to keep on reaching out when the other side seems determined to spurn every friendly gesture but the pledge today must be to be patient and to keep the faith.

And it is good that the Head of State, on this anniversary, is stressing that the mistakes of the past should not be dwelled on and that the nation should be looking to the future with hope.

"It is my hope that in this year, the magical 2000, we can learn to bury old axes.

"We must recognise that political polarisation would breed deeper alienation.

"We need to find creative ways of working together for the common good of all", he says.

Equally welcoming is his recognition of the hurdles in the way.

The future of the children "cannot be realised in our Republic if those who should lead, walk separately and in different directions.

"Their future of hope cannot be realised if those who should know better and set standards of emulation glorify crime and criminals, and allow the desecration of our national flag."

The goals of the Republic must indeed be lofty and include not only the promotion of a free and sovereign state, but also ethical and spiritual values, as the President notes.

If the society is to promote and advance on these lofty ideals and goals, it has to be cleansed of those

"who enrich themselves unjustly; those who trade in illicit drugs and guns; those who plunder others mercilessly; those who do sub-standard work; and those who deliver inefficient service."

In the midst of the merriment today, there should be room and time for pledges by those who truly care to shun those who continue to hold the old axes behind their backs or over the heads of others.

Patience and determination have a way of wearing down those who harbour old hatreds so that soon the old axes fall in the dust and rust.

And Guyana will be so much the better off.