Trinidad newspaper says PNC/R cannot escape blame for post-elections violence
May 23, 2001
THE Trinidad Guardian newspaper says the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/.R) cannot escape blame for much of the violence here since the March 19 elections.
In an editorial Monday, headed "The Guyana 'dialogue'", the Guardian said:
"No objective observer of the Guyana political scene could possibly exonerate the PNC/R from blame for much of the post-election conflicts and violence that have accompanied its anti-government street protests in Georgetown and along the East Coast of Demerara."
Here's the text of the editorial: "GUYANA'S President, Bharrat Jagdeo, and Opposition Leader Desmond Hoyte seem to be making some significant progress in their ongoing dialogue that started on April 24.
It was officially initiated by the young head of state and government.
They have had at least five meetings at the President's Office since the start of the dialogue process that was strongly advocated by various sections of the Guyanese society, including the media. Dialogue is always the preferred and sensible option in the resolution of problems.
The resort by Mr Hoyte's party, People's National Congress/ Reform (PNC/R), to post-election tactics and strategies that resulted in serious physical violence, robberies and destruction to property, clearly has no place in a multiparty parliamentary democracy.
Certainly not one as heavily racially/politically polarised as Guyana.
No objective observer of the Guyana political scene could possibly exonerate the PNC/R from blame for much of the post-election conflicts and violence that have accompanied its anti-government street protests in Georgetown and along the East Coast of Demerara.
The fact that the party would wish to reject such blame does not affect its accuracy.
It would, therefore, be in its own best interest, as the dialogue proceeds with the ruling PPP/Civic's Jagdeo, for the PNC/R to critically review the roles played by "talk show" hosts on certain television programmes.
Their identification with the PNC/R and their own race-hate talk and seditious statements had, from all credible reports, clearly contributed to the racial conflicts, the mayhem, with anti-East Indian manifestations.
In addressing the ceremonial opening of the eighth Guyana Parliament on May
4, witnessed on behalf of Caricom by two Prime Ministers, President Jagdeo had urged that all parties be ready to unreservedly condemn criminal acts and violence perpetuated against Guyanese "because of their ethnicity".
Beating and robbing innocent citizens, he said, "is not legitimate political protest", and he gave the firm assurance not to "shirk the responsibility" to govern in the interests of "all Guyanese" and not any particular ethnic group.
The Opposition Leader, well meaning as he may be, is yet to speak with similar clarity and forthrightness in specifically condemning the criminal and political acts that have so greatly afflicted Guyana since the March 19 election that was won by the incumbent PPP/Civic for a third consecutive term.
Nevertheless, one redeeming feature of the post-election trauma in Guyana is that both Hoyte and Jagdeo appear to be passionately pursuing an agenda to have in place bipartisan mechanisms with clearly defined terms of reference to address wide-ranging issues of national importance.
The bipartisan committees of representatives of both parties that will have access to well-placed technocrats, will focus on issues such as: Guyana's border and national security, local government reform, revitalisation of the country's bauxite industry, land and house lots distribution, aid for depressed communities, radio monopoly and non-partisan boards in the public sector.
The fact that President Jagdeo is demonstrating, in the process, his own anxiety to get these committees to begin their work, suggests his own confidence that racial/political discrimination is certainly not official policy of the PPP/Civic administration, and wherever it surfaces must be effectively remedied.
But both Jagdeo and Hoyte would be aware of the fragility of the political situation in Guyana and of the special inputs that they would have to continue making to place the country's interest above narrow, partisan and destructive politics.
There has been much focus on the number and composition of the bipartisan committees created. Jagdeo and Hoyte would be advised against overlooking the fact that not just a government but the parliamentary opposition as well has a clear, moral obligation to behave in a manner that could help in fostering a climate to inspire investors' confidence
The friendly, hospitable Guyanese people desperately need and deserve such a climate, now."