Parties to continue talks on Ethnic Relations Commissions

Guyana Chronicle
November 23, 1999

REPRESENTATIVES in the political dialogue between the two major parties will today consider the areas of agreement on the proposals presented by each side for the formation of an Ethnic Relations Commission.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) appointed Facilitator for the talks, Mr Maurice King told the Chronicle yesterday he has been requested to pick out the areas of agreement from both sides so that they can settle these.

When the talks ended on Friday, the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) and the main People's National Congress (PNC) had produced ideas on what the terms of reference for the commission should be.

"It seems to be an area where there is a substantial measure of agreement," King said, noting that the two sides have assured that they will conclude their talks on the commission before he is ready to leave.

The former Barbados Attorney General and Foreign Minister whose second stint as facilitator finishes at the end of the year, said he is leaving on December 18 for the Christmas holidays and he doubts much can be done after then.

"I've asked them to try and at least come to some agreement before the 18th of December," he explained.

He was sent here last year September by CARICOM to mediate structured talks between the PPP/Civic and the PNC.

His contract was renewed in March this year.

The teams continue to meet twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays.

St Lucian Prime Minister, Dr Kenny Anthony visited Guyana last month and expressed disappointment at the pace of the inter-party talks and the many issues which have surfaced and compromised the process moving forward.

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

The January Herdmanston Accord and July St Lucia Statement envisage political dialogue between the two major parties.

The two parties signed the two documents amid rising tensions and violence sparked by PNC anti-government street protests in Georgetown after the December 1997 general elections.

The documents were signed by Anthony, then CARICOM Chairman, PNC leader Mr Desmond Hoyte and former President, Mrs Janet Jagan.

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