Civil society should exert influence on dialogue process
- facilitator

By Patrick Denny
Stabroek News
December 18, 1999

CARICOM facilitator Maurice King, QC, is urging civil society to exert its influence to shape the course of the Herdmanston Accord dialogue process.

He suggested that they should so organise themselves that the political parties would feel constrained to listen to them.

Speaking with reporters yesterday at a press conference at the CARICOM Secretariat, King said that the trade union movement, the professional associations, the Private Sector Commission and other groups should bring to bear their influence on the political and social climate as free and independent-minded people.

He said that they should be able to articulate their vision of Guyana and so organise themselves that the political parties would feel constrained to listen to them.

King said that it was in the long term interest of the Guyanese people and of CARICOM as a whole that Guyana should be prosperous, adding that when Guyana is prosperous then the whole of CARICOM will be prosperous.

Commenting on the continued involvement of CARICOM in the dialogue process, King said that whether or not it remained connected, it was important for the country's democracy that the two major parties should continue to engage in the dialogue process.

"It is going to be important for the people of Guyana to understand in their own minds that it is for the people of Guyana and the major political parties, particularly, to be engaged in trying to resolve the problems of your own country."

He stressed that "in the final analysis you have to make those decisions; you have to talk your problems (through) and you should not expect and, in fact, you should resent other people coming from outside to dictate to you what you should do about your own lives and about your country."

At yesterday's press conference King announced that the two sides had agreed on proposals for the establishment of an Ethnic Relations Commission which were now being considered by the executive committees of the PPP/Civic and the PNC before being transferred to the parliamentary constitution reform process. For that reason, King said that he was not in a position to divulge the details of the proposals.

The establishment of the Ethnic Relations Commission as a constitutional body was recommended by the Constitution Reform Commission and approved by the National Assembly.

The proposal discussed in the dialogue process was intended to flesh out the principles agreed to by the Special Select Committee on Constitution Reform.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples