Proposals tabled on Ethnic Realtions Commission

Guyana Chronicle
November 25, 1999

THE two major political parties have agreed to 12 proposals relating to setting up an Ethnic Relations Commission and are to take them to their respective executive committees for approval. This was reported yesterday by Facilitator appointed by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Mr Maurice King, for the structured dialogue between the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) and the main opposition People's National Congress (PNC). He told the Chronicle yesterday that once approved by their executive committees, the parties will take the proposals back to the dialogue for formal approval. The two sides will at their statutory meeting tomorrow consider another 12 proposals, King said.

"These are a set of proposals relating to the Ethnic Relations Commission which they contemplate will be included in the Constitution during the National Assembly's debate on it (the Constitution)," the CARICOM-appointed official explained.

The Ethnic Relations Commission, a recommendation of the Constitution Reform Commission, envisages a body that could confront the basis for resolving racial division. Its objective is to promote harmony in the country, the report of the 20-man Commission handed in earlier this year, stated. 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.

King said he has been assured by the two sides that they can conclude the issue of the Ethnic Relations Commission before he leaves. He was sent here last year September by CARICOM to mediate talks between the PPP/Civic and the PNC. His contract was renewed in March this year. The teams continue to meet 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 the responsibility by other CARICOM leaders 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. The documents were signed by Anthony, then CARICOM Chairman, PNC leader, Mr Desmond Hoyte and former President, Mrs Janet Jagan. (MICHELLE ELPHAGE)

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