Main parties agree on race relations commission
December 16, 1999
THE two main political parties have agreed to proposals for the formation of an Ethnic Relations Commission.
The decision has to be sanctioned by the executives of the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) and the main opposition People's National Congress (PNC) but a key player in talks between the two does not anticipate problems.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) appointed facilitator for the structured dialogue between the two, Mr Maurice King yesterday confirmed that the PPP/Civic and the PNC have agreed to common proposals to establish the race relations commission.
The proposals, King said, deal with duties of the commission, appointments and membership.
He said he does not foresee the executives of the two parties having problems with the proposals since these are pretty straightforward.
A 20-man Constitution Reform Commission in July recommended that an Ethnic Relations Commission be established.
King explained it is envisaged that when the legislation providing for that amendment goes to Parliament, the proposals settled at the dialogue level will form part of the House's consideration on the matter.
He was requested by the two sides to pick out the areas of agreement they submitted last month on the terms of reference for the commission.
King had expressed optimism that the issue would have been concluded before he left Guyana since it was an area in which there seemed to be "a substantial measure of agreement."
The former Barbados Attorney General and Foreign Minister whose second stint as facilitator finishes at the end of the year, is to hold a press conference tomorrow before returning home on Saturday for the Christmas holidays.
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.
St Lucian Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony, on a visit to Guyana about two months ago, expressed disappointment at the pace of the inter-party talks and the many issues which have surfaced and compromised the process moving forward.
CARICOM in July this year assigned Anthony responsibility to oversee the 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 parties signed the two documents amid violence and rising tensions sparked by PNC anti-government street protests in Georgetown after the December 15, 1997 general elections.
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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