Ensure 2001 elections deadline
- Anthony urges

By Michelle Elphage
Guyana Chronicle
October 25, 1999

PRIME Minister of Saint Lucia, Dr. Kenny Anthony is encouraging rapid implementation of relevant mechanisms to ensure general elections in Guyana by January 2001.

He concluded a visit here on Saturday stating that as far as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was concerned the deadline must be met as agreed to by the two main political parties.

"I believe that if that date is to be maintained...they will have to do a tremendous amount of work that will require a lot of confidence in the process," he said.

"Mere will is not enough on this occasion...Everybody recognises how crucial it is to meet that deadline...It's important for the political parties here to understand that they cannot ignore the need for the people of Guyana to be confident about the process.

"They need to ensure that they minimise and eliminate the insecurity that people feel on a number of issues," he said.

Anthony congratulated the work of the Constitution Reform Commission, calling it a "remarkable achievement".

The 20-member Constitution Commission sworn in on January 22 by former President Janet Jagan met a July 17 deadline to present its report to Parliament, as provided for in the two CARICOM-brokered `peace' agreements signed last year between the governing PPP/Civic and the main opposition PNC.

Fresh elections are projected by 2001, 18 months after the presentation of the report.

Anthony, at a press conference at the CARICOM Secretariat, agreed that the 2001 deadline was challenging for the parties to meet. But he stressed it must be met.

"In the past few weeks one has noted a certain urgency on their part, particularly in respect of the work of the Select Committee," he said.

The constitution reform parliamentary Select Committee is to present its review of the Commission's recommendations to Parliament by the end of this month.

While Anthony did not offer advice on how any specific recommendation could be tackled, since he did not read the report, he said he was aware that it presents many challenges.

The meetings he held here Friday and Saturday explored options on how the issues can be resolved, he told reporters.

He also said he was impressed with commitments received from President Bharrat Jagdeo and PNC leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte to meet the elections deadline.

Anthony indicated that Guyana would always have the support of CARICOM, noting that its involvement with this country was historic.

He explained that previously the community had a hands-off approach to dealing with member states, but in the case of Guyana, it developed a mechanism to help the country through its political crisis.

Anthony was assigned responsibility by CARICOM heads in July this year to oversee the implementation of two CARICOM-brokered `peace' deals signed between the two major political parties last year.

The Herdmanston Accord and the Saint Lucia Statement were signed amid rising tensions and violence sparked by PNC anti-government street protests in Georgetown after the December 15, 1997 general elections.

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