Hoyte denies setting pre-conditions for meeting with Jagdeo

by Patrick Denny
Stabroek News
October 28, 1999

PNC leader, Desmond Hoyte, yesterday refuted claims made by President Bharrat Jagdeo in Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday, and reported in yesterday's Stabroek News, that he had set pre-conditions for a meeting with him.

He reiterated his willingness, as a signatory to the Herdmanston Accord and St Lucia Statement, to meet "on mutually agreed terms and at a mutually convenient time, with a functionary identified by the PPP/Civic as its representative as envisaged by those agreements, that is to say a representative who is invested with the authority to speak for and bind the party on general and specific matters addressed in those agreements."

The problem facing his party was how to deal with an individual who had no authority and could not deliver on any agreement arrived at because of a lack of influence, Hoyte told a press conference he hosted at his party's Congress Place headquarters.

In responding to President Jagdeo's invitation that they should meet, Hoyte, in his letter dated October 14, referred to President Jagdeo's "widely reported statement, that you were neither the Leader of the PPP/Civic nor that party's representative for the purposes of the Herdmanston Accord," and as such had not sent off the original response he had penned prior to his departure for China.

He said that in subsequent reports attributed to President Jagdeo, he seemed to have adjusted his "original perception of your status and the extent of your authority and responsibilities. Unfortunately, rather than clarifying the matter, these appear to have introduced new perplexities."

Hoyte insisted in his letter that the question of an agenda was vital, "since I personally would be attracted to a dialogue that revolves around concrete, practical issues of immediate import and would not wish to be caught up in an academic or public relations exercise.

"The merits of such an approach are obvious: it would avoid the tedium and frustrations of discussions that are inconclusive or understandings that are merely tentative or ad referendum."

Hoyte said that the climate for the meeting had to be propitious to create confidence in its expedience. "Otherwise, it is likely not only to be infructuous, but to result in dangerous disillusionment."

Hoyte then suggested a number of confidence-building measures which would "send a powerful signal and go a far way towards creating a favourable climate and demonstrating the requisite good faith."

Among the actions which he suggested President Jagdeo could make as an indication of his earnest intentions were: immediate reconstitution of the Land Selection Committees to reflect a more equitable political balance, the release for public information the Report of the Commission of Enquiry into the 1996 Sea Defence Breach at Mon Repos, the cessation of the filibustering of the PPP/Civic representatives to the inter-party dialogue and the Special Select Committee on constitutional reform, and condemnation and banning of pre-dawn exercises to evict alleged squatters from land owned by state and para-statal agencies.

President Jagdeo responded to Hoyte's letter in correspondence dated October 22, 1999.

Asked to comment on President Jagdeo's assurance contained in the October 22 letter, that as President he was and "shall be responsible for discharging any governmental obligations arising from the Herdmanston Accord process," Hoyte said that he could not identify any such obligations.

He maintained that the accord and statement as part of the legislation on constitution reform had put a legal framework on the various deadlines. As such it was not an obligation for the President but for the Parliament and the people of Guyana.

Hoyte also stated that he personally did not believe that the President could deliver on some of the conditions since he had put himself in the political strait-jacket of collective leadership.

Referring to a paragraph in Jagdeo's letter which stated that he (Jagdeo) had since met with two of the leaders of the parliamentary political parties, namely Manzoor Nadir of The United Force, and Dr Rupert Roopnaraine of the Working People's Alliance, Hoyte said that these meetings were the worst examples he could have put forward since they had yielded no result.

In his speech at his inauguration President Jagdeo announced his intention to meet Hoyte and the other leaders of the parliamentary political parties. He has reiterated several times that he was willing to meet Hoyte without any pre-conditions to "work out mutually acceptable ways of enhancing the relationship between my administration" and the PNC.

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