Inter-party talks cordial, but contentious -- King

Stabroek News
August 15, 1999

The resumed discussion between the PPP/Civic and the PNC have been described by CARICOM facilitator, former Barbados attorney-general, Maurice King QC, as being conducted in a "cordial but contentious atmosphere".

In a telephone conversation with Stabroek News following last evening's session between the two sides at Le Meridien Pegasus, King said that they had agreed to document their proposals on the issues of the Elections Commission and land selection committees and house lot allocation, the priority issues of the PPP/Civic and the PNC respectively. Discussions on the two issues will resume tomorrow.

King who arrived here at the beginning of August said that he would be here possibly until September 1, and would return after a short break if the two sides were still talking.

King confirmed a statement by Lance Carberry, who leads the PNC dialogue team, that the two sides had agreed that where genuine efforts were being made to arrive at a resolution of any issue, they would take as much time as needed to facilitate a decision being reached.

Also, he confirmed they had agreed that matters would be discussed in a forthright manner and where there was no possibility of them reaching a decision on an issue they would let the public know the reasons for their failure to do so.

The PNC has retained its team of Carberry, Raphael Trotman and Lloyd Joseph but the PPP has changed its team, which is now being led by General Secretary, Donald Ramotar and includes Dr Frank Anthony and Philomena Sahoye-Shury.

A statement issued by the PPP described the change in personnel as a result of the dialogue now focusing on party political issues. The focus on party political issues was part of the agreement brokered by Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, when he visited in May, to restart the dialogue which had stalled in February as a result of remarks made by then leader of the PPP/Civic team, Dr Roger Luncheon, alleging that the two sides were not equals in the dialogue process.

The PPP statement also said that the new members were not burdened with the heavy state responsibilities that Dr Luncheon and Culture, Youth and Sports Minister, Gail Teixeira had to bear. Their places have been taken by Dr Anthony and Sahoye-Shury.

The dialogue, one of the Herdmanston Accord's menu of measures to return Guyana to normality, has been described by PNC leader, Desmond Hoyte, as being useless as a result of its inability to make decisions in a timely manner. At a press conference on Monday, he said that he hoped the resumed dialogue would now be able to do so.

The donor community in renewing its funding for King's role for a further three-month period had indicated that it would have liked to see some time frames set for the resolution of certain issues but this was not pursued with CARICOM.

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