Advice that should be heeded

Guyana Chronicle
December 18, 1999

MR MAURICE King, the former Barbados Attorney General and Foreign Minister Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government appointed as Facilitator for the structured dialogue between the two major parties here, is due to leave for home today.

It is not yet clear whether he would be persuaded to resume his role, after the holidays, in mediating the talks between the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) and the main opposition People's National Congress (PNC).

There appears to have been some problems with the financial arrangements promised by international donor agencies for his assignment and while Mr King declined to be drawn on these yesterday at a press conference in Georgetown, we hope these are satisfactorily resolved.

Mr King's stint has not always been of smooth going here and we are sure there were times he must have been tempted to walk away from it all.

But he stayed through and offered some sound advice as he prepared to leave, not sure whether he would be back in the role.

The heads of government who first picked him for the job with the agreement of the two major parties here, are to review their continued participation in the Guyana political process after the end of the year but Mr King feels the structured dialogue should continue - with or without a mediator.

"In any democracy, it is healthy that both sides, and that parties in a democracy, continue talking to each other," he said yesterday, stating the very obvious.

"It's going to be important for your democracy that this dialogue continues. It's going to be important that the people of Guyana understand very clearly in their own minds that it's for the people of Guyana, the major political parties in particular, to engage in trying to resolve the problems of your own country", Mr King added.

Reflecting the feeling of many who firmly believe in finding solutions to political and other problems at home, with the involvement of Guyanese, the mediator again urged the obvious:

"In the final analysis, you have to make those decisions. You have to solve your problems.

"And you should not expect, in fact, you should resent other people coming from outside to dictate to you what you should do about your own life and about your country."

We believe it is important that the structured dialogue be maintained - with or without a facilitator - because of the critical importance of the sides talking to each other.

As Mr King stated, once the political will is there, the talking process can continue.

It is to be regretted that he could not have capped this round of negotiations between the two parties by reporting success on all issues, but Mr King can be proud that he has helped them along the way and that they have at least agreed to set a race relations commission in motion.

The advice he left behind yesterday should put the parties in good stead to push for progress and it is up to them to prove that they are up to the task.

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