King's role as dialogue facilitator discontinued

Stabroek News
March 18, 2000

The two parties to the Herdmanston Accord dialogue process will have to consider their options now that the CARICOM Heads have decided to discontinue the involvement of their facilitator.

The two parties - the PPP/Civic and the PNC - had indicated to the CARICOM Secretariat their willingness for the continued involvement of the facilitator, Maurice King QC, the former Barbadian attorney general after December 31, 1999.

However, at their just concluded intersessional meeting in St Kitts-Nevis the CARICOM Heads decided against the continued involvement of King in the dialogue process.

The communique on the meeting said that having reviewed King's report for the period up to December 31, they "agreed that there was no need for extension of his assignment beyond that time." It said too that they "will determine at their next meeting of the Conference whether further support and assistance are needed in the continued implementation of the Herdmanston Accord and Saint Lucia Statement."

At a press conference last week, CARICOM Secretary General, Edwin Carrington had noted that there seemed to be a perception that the dialogue was not as productive as it should have been, but that it was up to the PPP/C and the PNC to dispel that perception. He also expressed concern at a view reported to have been held by the PNC leader Desmond Hoyte that the dialogue process had not been particularly fruitful.

In contrast to Hoyte's view, PPP general secretary, Donald Ramotar, was convinced of the usefulness of the process if only because it had brought the two sides to the negotiating table ending months of self-imposed isolation from each other.

However, while both parties had indicated a preference for King's continued involvement, he himself was not prepared to continue unless the parties were committed to ensuring that the process produced results and proper arrangements were in place for his continued participation.

King left Guyana in mid-December and before he left copies of his report were submitted to St Lucia's prime minister, Dr Kenny Anthony who has responsibility for monitoring the political developments in Guyana, and to Carrington. He did not indicate that he was not available to continue his involvement in the process.

The agreement for his involvement in the process ended on December 31. The Bureau of the Heads had agreed that he should continue, but deferred the final decision to the full meeting of the CARICOM Heads.