Engineers group plugs six-year power-sharing formula
Presidency would rotate between top parties

Stabroek News
April 5, 2001

The Guyana Association of Professional Engineers (GAPE) is restating its call for power-sharing which envisages a six-year term where two parties gaining over 30% of the votes would rotate the presidency.

GAPE had tendered these proposals to the Constitution Reform Commission.

To facilitate power-sharing, GAPE proposed that national elections be held every six years with the system of proportional representation retained. The list of candidates prior to the election must be submitted with a preferred order of priority which will be observed in selecting Members of Parliament (MPs).

Municipal and local government elections, GAPE proposed, should be conducted separately on the basis of the first-past-the-post constituency system every five years and shall not be part of the national elections.

GAPE proposed that any political party which satisfies criteria for qualification to contest national elections and which obtains 30% of the vote shall have the right to executive participation in the government and to have a share of Cabinet posts in proportion to its percentage of the vote.

The parties with the greatest number of votes shall have the right to the presidency for the first three years. The party with the second largest percentage of votes, provided this is greater than 30% would have a right to the Prime Minister's post. If more than two parties gain more than 30% of the vote, then the third one will not have a right to the presidency or prime ministership but will share Cabinet posts on a proportional basis. If, however, two parties form a coalition, they would then jointly become the premier party with the first right to the presidency.

At the end of the three years, GAPE proposed that the premier party will hand over the presidency to the second party and assume the prime minister's position.

At this three-year juncture, the incoming president would have the right to request a Cabinet reshuffle on grounds of improving efficiency provided that the proportional representation system within the Cabinet is maintained.

Among the conditions for qualification of any party seeking to contest the election is that it should submit a development plan for Guyana, over a six-year period, indicating the principal measures which it proposes to adopt should it emerge as the majority party. The development plan should be an indication of priorities or modifications within the National Development Strategy (NDS) already agreed by all parties and which is presently the subject of an all-party exercise.

Such a plan, GAPE said need not be detailed in every respect but must be sufficiently researched to indicate that it is workable and should fall within the ambit of the NDS which is adopted as an all-party development plan. This is important, GAPE said not only to test the genuineness and political maturity of a party but should it attain 30% of the vote, its plan would be in used in association with the NDS to formulate a blueprint for action over the six-year period. This would be the prerogative of the premier party whose plan would be operative even during the second three-year period of government.

Cabinet portfolios, GAPE said must be fixed and not changeable at the whims of the president. The more important portfolios should be considered to be finance, education, health, foreign affairs, works, agriculture and transport. No party should be allowed to hold more than three of these portfolios. The premier party shall have the first choice of three of the above. Up to four members of Cabinet may be technocrats without any party affiliation.

GAPE has proposed the abolition of the Office of the Ombudsman and the establishment of a Commission of Legislation comprising a small number of able persons whose duty it would be to oversee the legislative programme and ensure its relevance and effectiveness in Guyanese society.

This legislative body, GAPE said need not comprise lawyers or persons from the social services fraternity but of persons who have had a good record of efficient and honest service in some field of human endeavour.

In terms of power-sharing GAPE has also recommended the establishment of parliamentary select committees for science and technology, finance, law, land reform and consumer affairs. Such select committees would comprise MPs and nominees from relevant NGOs agreed by the parties in government.