PPP prepared to develop bipartisanism - Ramotar
Party fully supports Jagdeo/Hoyte talks

Stabroek News
June 27, 2001

The PPP is prepared to develop bipartisanism and alliances and is fully supportive of the dialogue between President Bharrat Jagdeo and PNC REFORM leader, Desmond Hoyte.

At a press conference yesterday, People's Progressive Party (PPP) general secretary Donald Ramotar said that the party's central committee took the position that "the ongoing dialogue process is imperative for a climate of stability and progress and must be supported".

The position was adopted at a meeting of the central committee on June 23, the first since the March 19 elections and at which a report by Ramotar and one by President Jagdeo on the work of the administration since then were presented.

In a statement read at the Freedom House press conference, Ramotar added "the PPP also sees inclusive politics as a hallmark of the new democracy being built in Guyana. The party is prepared to broaden relationships, to develop bipartisanism, and alliances. These policies, however, are premised on respect for the national interest, responsible conduct and patriotism".

Also agreed by Central Committee was that the principle of the separation of the party and the work of government will continue to be pursued. "To further prepare the party for new and emerging challenges, a special conference of party leaders will be convened", Ramotar said. Since the death of President Cheddi Jagan in 1992, the reigning PPP/Civic President has not held the post of party general secretary.

Commenting on the importance the party gives to the work of the joint committees set up during the Jagdeo/Hoyte dialogue, Ramotar said that while the day to day functions of the government must go on, this should not detract from the importance of the work they have been mandated to do.

Ramotar had been asked if his views differed from that of Prime Minister Sam Hinds who had said that the committees were not intended to be a burden on the government.

Asked whether he thought that the dialogue could lead to a lessening of suspicions between the two major parties, Ramotar said that it was a long process and the degree to which it had been reduced would be demonstrated at the next elections.

About its contribution to the lessening of tension in the society, the PPP general secretary said that the dialogue has had some impact, but did not see it leading to power sharing immediately. According to Ramotar, power sharing would have to evolve from a process but had no doubt that as the democracy moves ahead, there would be a better atmosphere for this to happen.

He stressed, however, that power sharing was not necessarily about dividing up Cabinet positions but related to other levels in the society such as Parliament. He said that the recent amendments to the Constitution now provide for the participation of all the parliamentary parties on the committees to be set up which would monitor various aspects of the administration's work.

And in a related question, Ramotar said that the Carter Center formula for composing the Elections Commission was now part of the Constitution. But he noted that in the present environment of suspicion, the commission would continue to be constituted by party political representatives until the distrust had lessened sufficiently. He said that a permanent Elections Commission comprised of electoral professionals was the ideal to which the society should work to attain.

Asked about his party's expectations of the audit and system review of the conduct of the March 19 elections, Ramotar said that he did not expect that its findings would be different to that of the observer missions.

To a related question about the post-March 19 events, Ramotar disclosed that Saturday's meeting had allowed the party's regional leaders to update the committee on the functioning of regional groups. However, he said that while reports about the rising incidence of crime had been reported to the relevant agencies, the recent protests at Albion could not have been anticipated as they were spontaneous. He also declined to comment on whether he believed that the government had responded with the required degree of urgency to the reports made to it.

Ramotar also said that the government and the party had moved quickly when the protest started to defuse the situation with government and party functionaries visiting the areas.

He disclosed that the central committee meeting had urged zero tolerance for "criminal attacks on peaceful and hardworking Guyanese" and as well as zero tolerance for "attacks on the dedicated law enforcement ranks".

About the party's triennial congress due this year, Ramotar said that the central committee decided that the party's executive committee would further discuss and advise on this matter.

Central Committee also commended President Jagdeo for his stewardship of the country especially in light of the post-elections unrest, Ramotar said. While acknowledging the efforts of the president to enhance governmental effectiveness in delivering goods and services to the people, the Central Committee urged acceleration in the slashing of red tape and the elimination of government inefficiency.