Unrest hampers Cabinet appointments
- President says

Guyana Chronicle
May 20, 2001

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo says the delay in filling the four technocratic posts in his Cabinet is as a direct result of the unrest since the March 19 elections.

In an interview with TV host, Mr Christopher Ram, to be aired today, he says he has been meeting and discussing with a number of persons before he finally fills the posts but the political situation has posed some difficulties.

Career diplomat and Guyana's Permanent Representative at the United Nations for several years, Mr Rudy Insanally, is to be sworn in tomorrow as Foreign Minister in the Office of the President, filling one of the four technocrat posts.

The President said the other posts will be filled shortly.

Some of the persons he has been in discussion with are anxious to serve but are not willing to get into the "political fight" that prevails in the country, he reported.

President Jagdeo said some persons he has been meeting even told him that if they get into Cabinet the next day they will be the subject on some television 'talk show' or that someone will come and stone their house or even question their integrity.

He pointed out that when a person is not a "political type" those considerations become very difficult.

He noted that for people like himself and other seasoned politicians who have "thick political skins" and have been in the political game for a long time, those things, including the rumours, do not bother them much.

Mr Jagdeo also reiterated that he is the first President in the history of Guyana to operate with a restriction, referring to the limitation of four technocratic positions in his Cabinet under the new Constitution.

According to the Head of State, a lot of the people he has had discussions with have to "disengage" from their present occupations/activities.

"...when you talk to someone who is engaged as a technician...they do a number of things and they will need time to disengage (and) some persons are currently disengaging."

"What has happened with this violence and bullyism (post-elections unrest and disturbances) is that a lot of these technocratic types...are prepared to serve the country and the Cabinet but...are not prepared to get...their names tainted...they are worried about that," President Jagdeo said.

He also noted that there will be frequent changes in his Cabinet based on an assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of the work done by ministers.

The President noted that around 40 per cent of the persons in the Cabinet are new faces, which in itself is a significant change.

"I said there has to be continuity and it doesn't mean that I will get rid of everyone to suit someone who doesn't believe that these changes are fundamental...the changes have to be fundamental because you have 40 per cent of the Cabinet new..."

And on the issue of his ongoing dialogue with Opposition Leader, Mr Desmond Hoyte, President Jagdeo said he has always welcomed and called for dialogue with the Opposition on issues of national concern.

He recalled that when he was asked by reporters a few days before the March 19 elections what would be his top priorities if he won the elections, he responded that one will be "to meet Mr Hoyte so we can work together for the interest of all the people of this country, so we can build that new culture..."

So far, a number of committees have been set up as a direct result of the ongoing dialogue between the two and President Jagdeo said he would be "happy to work together like this on many other issues".

He also said he is moving ahead with plans to resuscitate the bauxite industry.

He is moving along simultaneously with plans for the sugar and rice sectors, he noted.

"I want the Opposition to participate so that they can better understand the difficulties and to work together to solve common problems," he added.