Party accusations pose great danger
May 4, 1998
If one of the objectives of the Herdmanston Accord was to nourish a spirit of maturity between the two main political parties and civilise the tone of their public exchanges then it has failed to deliver in that respect.
The two parties seem bent on continuing to score schoolboyish debate points over each other. Every utterance of their leaders and main officials, whether here or abroad, is dissected ever so carefully for new transgressions of the Herdmanston Accord and for each to be trumpeted as loudly as possible and placed on an imaginary score-card. Both the PPP/Civic and the PNC have been guilty at one time or another of breaching the accord provisions as they relate to inflammatory language.
In yesterday's Sunday Stabroek we reported on the latest charges and counter charges issuing from the two parties stemming from remarks made by President Janet Jagan and from PNC representatives on a local television programme.
In the Menu of Measures agreed for resolving the political problems which had their origins in the December 15 elections, President Jagan and PNC leader Desmond Hoyte agreed on January 17 to "avoid the use by or on behalf of their respective parties of language which is accusatory and which might have an inflammatory effect in the current political context".
In their statement on the conclusion of the CARICOM peace mission here, the three `wise men' implored Guyanese leaders to contribute to reconciliation by, among other things, "the termination of strident and controversial statements which could have negative effects both inside and outside of the country."
These vituperative statements that flow back and forth from the two main parties may have more to do with the operation of their political machinery rather than being a reflection of their commitment or lack thereof to this aspect of the accord. The parties both see it as vital to their public positions to exude this unwillingness to appear weak and to answer each assault with a new and more strident salvo.
It may well be politics as usual but the signals being sent to the the average supporter - or ordinary citizen who has no interest in either party - is that the PPP/Civic and the PNC have intractable differences that cannot be overcome and are preparing their followers for various possible outcomes of the CARICOM audit of the December 15 results.
This is where the greatest danger lies and is why the two parties must cease this foolishness immediately. The frightening instability of the post-December 15 period is something both parties are committed to ensuring does not return to haunt and paralyse the country.
Yet, if verbal messages of dissonance continue to be transmitted by both parties what hope is there that the citizenry will not be similarly polarised?
The public relations energies of these two parties must be harnessed now to provide a platform for ensuring that the verdict of the CARICOM Audit Commission (CAC) is accepted by both parties and their supporters. This is not in evidence anywhere or certainly doesn't enjoy the profile of the highly charged invective being hurled by the two main parties at each other.
The end-of-month deadline for the submission of the CAC findings offers both parties an opportunity to reach out to their supporters and non-supporters and to appeal to them to accept the binding judgement of the audit team. We urge the two parties to rise to the challenge and halt the damaging exchanges.