PPP/Civic awaits response from PNC

Guyana Chronicle
June 1, 1999

THE governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) is awaiting a response from the main minority People's National Congress (PNC) to an invitation it sent for the two sides to resume talks tomorrow.

PPP General Secretary, Mr. Donald Ramotar who dispatched the letter to his PNC counterpart, Mr. Oscar Clarke last week, told the Chronicle yesterday he had not yet received a formal response to his letter.

The letter, according to a PPP release, also invites the PNC to have discussions on the constitution of a permanent Elections Commission under the formula introduced here by former United States President Jimmy Carter for the October 5, 1992 general elections.

"I am officially waiting on a reply from the PNC...This letter served to propose a resumption of the talks after such a long break," Ramotar said.

Clarke indicated yesterday that it was likely he will dispatch a response to Ramotar today.

He said he only received the letter over the weekend, questioning why the contents of the document appeared in the press before he received it.

PNC point man on the dialogue, Mr. Lance Carberry said the party was interested in resuming the dialogue under the aegis of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

"When Chief (Emeka) Anyaoku (Commonwealth Secretary General) was here, all discussions were centred on talks resuming under the aegis of the CARICOM Facilitator, Mr. Maurice King," Carberry explained.

He said he has indicated to CARICOM Secretary General, Mr. Edwin Carrington that the PNC was willing to restart talks as soon as possible.

Anyaoku more than two weeks ago brokered an agreement between the two major parties on resuming the inter-party dialogue which had been stalled for more than two months because of differences between the PPP/Civic and the PNC.

The Commonwealth Secretary General had hoped the talks would have restarted one week later, but Carrington indicated at a recent press conference that there was still not clear agreement on the continued role of the regionally-appointed Facilitator.

According to the CARICOM official the PNC has said it would await the arrival of King, a former Barbados Attorney General and Foreign Minister, but said Foreign Minister, Mr. Clement Rohee has formally indicated that the PPP/Civic wanted time to review the role of the facilitator in the context of the Anyaoku agreement. "We are waiting further clarification on that particular matter because we cannot, of course bring Mr. King here if both sides are not agreeable to his arrival here," Carrington said.

Under the coordination of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), funds have already been earmarked by the international donor community for the continued role of the facilitator.

A total of US$81,000 was spent on King's first assignment which ended in March.

Carberry has written the CARICOM Secretary General expressing concern at the delay in resuming the dialogue.

"As you are aware, 17 days have elapsed since the public release...of the agreement for the resumption of the inter-party dialogue which was brokered by the Commonwealth Secretary...PNC is very disappointed that there has been no further contact from you or your office to let us know the status of your efforts in this matter," Carberry's letter said.

According to the PNC Executive member, during his last conversation with Carrington on May 10, the CARICOM official had undertaken to try to convene the dialogue in the week of May 16-22.

He said he was contacted by Carrington's Assistant, Ms S. Granger on two occasions - during the week of May 9-15, informing him of the status of efforts to convene the first meeting of the resumed dialogue.

Carberry said the PNC was disturbed that Rohee's letter to Carrington and "the need for the two parties to agree on an agenda for the first meeting," have not been brought to their attention.

"You may have been informed by the Facilitator that, when the inter-party dialogue was suspended...the teams were seeking to resolve issues which were included in the agenda agreed by the parties and the CARICOM Facilitator. In the circumstances, we in the PNC are surprised that the resumption of the dialogue has been delayed because of the inter-party agenda. This has already been agreed," Carberry's letter, dispatched last week, said.

"The PNC understood, from our discussions with Chief Anyaoku (and confirmed by you) that the dialogue would resume under the present CARICOM Facilitator, Mr. Maurice King. In fact, Chief Anyaoku undertook to contact Mr. King to inform him of the agreement for the resumption of the dialogue. Accordingly we are looking forward to his return and early resumption of the inter-party dialogue."

However, a top PPP/Civic official told the Chronicle that Ramotar visualised that if an initial meeting comes off between the two sides, they would be able to agree to a fresh agenda for the talks.

The party source said the previous agenda included matters, such as opposition representation on State Boards and Land Select Committees, that were in the ambit of the Government, a position against the Anyaoku agreement.

The agreement earlier this month stated that "the political dialogue should not be confused with the dialogue between the Government and the Opposition." (MICHELLE ELPHAGE)

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