Inter-party dialogue PPP wants to review facilitator's part

By Patrick Denny
Stabroek News
May 26, 1999

Efforts to resume the inter-party talks between the PPP/Civic and the PNC have run into yet another snag.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Edwin Carrington, says that in addition to the delay occasioned by the need of the two parties to agree on an agenda for the first meeting, the PPP/Civic had indicated that it wanted to review its position on the continued participation of the CARICOM facilitator.

Carrington told reporters at a press conference yesterday at the CARICOM Secretariat that Foreign Minister, Clement Rohee, had written to the secretariat indicating the government's desire "to revisit the concept of the facilitator in the context of the agreement which was signed by the Commonwealth Secretary-General [Chief Emeka Anyaoku]."

The agreement was signed on May 8, by Dr Roger Luncheon on behalf of the PPP/Civic and by Lance Carberry on behalf of the PNC.

Carrington said: "there seems not to have been an agreement on all sides that the facilitator as we know him ... would automatically resume so we are awaiting further clarification on that particular matter because we cannot of course bring Mr [Maurice] King here if both sides are not agreeable to his arrival here."

Carrington said that the PPP/Civic's position was disclosed in its comments on a draft statement on the discussions on Guyana by the CARICOM Heads in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic which the CARICOM Secretariat had prepared and which had incorporated the agreement brokered by Anyaoku on May 9, for the resumption of the dialogue.

In its comments, according to Carrington, the PPP/Civic government had requested that the reference to the participation of the facilitator in the resumed dialogue process should be deleted. The move by the PPP/Civic was not known by Carberry, who heads the PNC dialogue team and was involved in the negotiations on the agreement.

He told Stabroek News that during the negotiations it was always understood that the role of the facilitator would be central to the resumed dialogue process.

Carberry recalled that when the agreement was signed, Anyaoku undertook to inform King, a former Barbados attorney general, that the two sides had agreed to resume the dialogue.

The statement on the agreement issued by Anyaoku at a press conference on May 9, also indicated that the first meeting which should have been held during the week of May 16, would have been convened by King, or, in his absence, CARICOM Secretary-General.

Anyaoku had also told reporters at that press conference that he had tried unsuccessfully to reach King by telephone.

But the disclosure was not altogether surprising to PNC leader, Desmond Hoyte. When contacted by Stabroek News yesterday for a reaction he said the report seems to give some credence to rumours his party had heard that the PPP/Civic had requested that the contract of the facilitator should not be renewed.

However, he said that his party had no hard evidence that such a request had been made to the CARICOM Secretariat.

On Friday, Dr Luncheon said that the delay was due to an alleged failure of the PNC to indicated its availability to resume the dialogue.

However, Carrington told reporters that while Carberry had informed him of the PNC's willingness to await the arrival of King to resume the talks, he and his officers had been unable to contact Carberry's PPP/Civic counterpart, Dr Luncheon, to ascertain that party's position before the receipt of Rohee's letter. Dr Luncheon had signed the Anyaoku agreement on behalf of the PPP/Civic.

Stabroek News has been unable to contact PPP General Secretary, Donald Ramotar, for an explanation of the party's move. However, on Monday, Ramotar had told this newspaper that he was unaware that Carrington had been unable to reach Dr Luncheon. He said that he had intended to write to the PNC to ascertain its availability to resume the dialogue and the composition of its dialogue team.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples