President urges political leaders to join him in bettering Guyana

Stabroek News
January 1, 2000

President Bharrat Jagdeo is appealing to political leaders in the country to join with him in creating a better life for Guyanese.

In his maiden New Year's address to the nation, the President asserted that Guyanese "must prepare for new challenges. This must be a national task, and all our energies must be directed at promoting the national interest, and making our Guyana prosperous. We can only do this if we act together as a nation".

Whilst ruing the lost opportunities for Guyana since its independence, the President is promising a better quality of life for Guyanese both materially and morally in the new century and added that the "collective will to make Guyana great is shining through".

Mr Jagdeo, in a wide-ranging discourse on world and domestic history scheduled for broadcast just after midnight today noted that for Guyana "almost one third of the past century was wasted. we fell victim to the Cold War that was the root cause of many of our political troubles. In addition, progress eluded our beloved country during a prolonged period after independence. Had it not been for those difficult years, Guyana would have been a prosperous nation. Among the ill effects of those days were lack of democracy, economic ruin and the mass exodus of our best people."

Mr Jagdeo acknowledged the push towards globalisation and liberalisation as not altogether favourable to small developing economies "but this must not daunt our spirits. Guyana is defining its place and role in this new system so as to secure advantages to our people. We must prepare for new challenges. This must be a national task and all our energies must be directed at promoting the national interest."

Mr Jagdeo adumbrated an eight-point list of priorities his government will work on with its social partners in the coming century: the maintenance of a democratic, transparent and accountable government; the further democratisation of major institutions and the deepening of fundamental civil and political liberties; ensuring equitable social and economic development; utilizing the country's natural resources in a sustainable manner; emphasising the rule of law to achieve greater security for the people and their properties; empowering women and young people in the march towards a happier life; promoting daily interaction and understanding of our diverse culture among the population; deepening relations with countries based on the principles of peace friendship and cooperation.

"In addition, our development thrust must have as its objective the provision of a better quality of life for our people in areas such as housing, water, health and education. The provision of the material needs of our people must be our priority. Similarly the development of strong values which promote strong family ties, a rebirth of the community spirit, respect for the rights and cultures of others, love and care of country and people ...these must be our goals."

The President paid tribute to the late Dr Cheddi Jagan for "pioneering the struggle against colonialism and dictatorship. He was indeed the founder of our modern democratic state". He also paid homage to national heroes including Cuffy and the Enmore Martyrs for their contributions to the struggle for freedom.

The President also announced that he had decided to declare January 3rd a Millennium Holiday.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples