Home grown dialogue solutions needed

Stabroek News
September 7, 1999

The Herdmanston Accord dialogue process is headed once more for deadlock and Guyana may yet again be exposed to the indignity of having one of the CARICOM Heads getting the two parties to sit down and resolve their differences.

The dialogue process was intended by the framers as a forum within which approaches to the contentious issues could be hammered out between the two parties - the PPP/Civic and the PNC.

Instead, rather than honouring the spirit and intent of the agreement both parties have sought to pursue their own narrow partisan aims. One as a means of forcing recognition of its government; the other to avoid having to deal as little as possible with a government it does not recognise.

Whatever the merits of their cases, the inescapable fact is that their manoeuvrings have left the nation wandering aimlessly in a desert of uncertainty and hopelessness.

President Bharrat Jagdeo who says that he is neither leader nor representative of the PPP/Civic has said that he would like to see the dialogue contribute to an improvement in the relations between the two parties.

However, what has been and continues to be missing in the dialogue process so far is the relationship between the leaders of the two parties. Both the Herdmanston Accord and the St Lucia Statement provide for an engagement between the PNC leader, Desmond Hoyte, and whoever is designated as the representative of the PPP/Civic.

There is no escaping the fact that that PPP/Civic representative would have to be President Jagdeo and the sooner that the PPP/Civic indicates that he is their representative, the likelier it is for engagements such as those envisaged by the Herdmanston Accord to be realised.

While President Jagdeo says that he would like reaching out to be a prominent feature of his administration, he must realise that it would have to be done in good faith and in conditions where both parties are equal in the process. This approach is more likely to bring about a recognition of his government than the present path being pursued. In flexing, the PPP/Civic has nothing to lose but it and the nation have everything to gain from a period of political stability.

As the embodiment of the future of this nation, President Jagdeo has the unique opportunity of breaking out of the culture of hostility and suspicion which has characterised the relations between the two parties.

One of the things those who have been observing politics in Guyana have been bemoaning is the absence of caring for each other that marked even the darkest days of relations between the two parties. Perhaps it was because of the camaraderie that was built up in the days of the anti-colonial struggle and before they began to demonise each other for their own ends.

And perhaps it is the absence of an environment in which politicians from both sides can meet each other away from the glare of television cameras and trash out things.

There is no problem which can defy resolution by two men who genuinely wish to reach accommodation.

And so back to the dialogue. Is the nation to be doomed to be described as one which is so immature that it must always seek outsiders to tell us what we know we must do for ourselves?

Our problems are essentially of our own making and their solutions would have to be home grown.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples