Any discussion of power sharing between the two parties would require a mediator trusted by both
Stabroek News
May 27, 2002

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Dear Editor,

In response to a letter published earlier bearing my name, Mr David Hinds' May 21st letter, 'Rodney did have a view on power sharing,' contained an excerpt from a 1979 speech from the late historian on the issue of power sharing, but I was more interested in the design and not the desire.

Forgive me if I was too vague when I said I wish if Dr Rodney were alive today to share his views on power sharing in Guyana, but it was not merely along the lines of general arguments for the idea; rather, how the idea might work. The structure, the principles, the objectives, and the means by which performance can be measured.

The late Dr Cheddi Jagan, like Dr Rodney, also advocated in the late seventies a National Patriotic Front Government to foster national unity.

Mr Hinds, himself, especially after the election losses by the PNC/R to the PPP/C, has become, via the letter columns, a spiraling exponent of the power-sharing concept. If my memory serves me well, the closest I think he came to offering some semblance of a structure was to propose the return of local government systems in which people actually share power via their local leaders, who then represent them to central government. Anything more substantial was missed by me.

I have said before that in order for a power-sharing system to work, the element of trust has to be heavily weighed as crucial to the system's successful operation. And given the level of hostility displayed over the last four decades between the PNC and PPP, there is no way these two parties can agree to such an eventuality without a third party's intervention. Such a third party has to have the trust of both parties.

That then brings me to the contention that the only third party that has proven to be capable of earning the two parties' trust is the Jimmy Carter Center in Georgia.

Mr Carter, whose recent visit to Cuba made waves on the world news, has earned the respect of many current and past world leaders as a powerful voice for the poor, abused and disenfranchised of the world. It was through his intervention that the Hoyte administration agreed to free and fair elections that resulted in the PPP/C's return to power after 28 years in the political wilderness.

Given the spate of racially motivated criminal violence, and given the perception that it is politically supported, and given that the government and the police seem in need of a compass to provide direction, it is the potential for a worsening of the plight of Indo- Guyanese at home that should draw attention to the Carter Center.

Of course, the PNC/R could counter with its own claims of police extra-judicial killings of black males, so the case for the Carter Center involvement at this stage would be well made on both sides.

But while the Center is known for its strong influence, it is not known for dabbling with the internal affairs of governments and political parties, yet it is that strong influence Guyana now needs in getting the two political parties to come up with draft proposals for power sharing. A mediator, trusted by the two parties, will review the proposals and then sit down with the parties' representatives to determine what aspects are mutually acceptable to work with.

(I earlier suggested local leaders of reputable organizations take some responsibility in mediating the dispute that triggered the pause in the dialogue process, because the PNC/R and PPP/C cannot do anything good together if left to their own devices.)

Still, the structure is where the greatest attention should be paid, not the mere thought of or need for a power sharing arrangement.

Perhaps Judaman Seecomor's views, as recently editorialized by Stabroek News, with pointed references to other countries that have a power-sharing arrangement, hold something more tangible and beyond mere calls. Perhaps Sir Shridath Ramphal, as Stabroek News opines, may do instead what I am suggesting the Carter Center also can do. But where is Dr Rodney or anybody's draft, structure, or outline of such an arrangement?

More importantly, where is the expressed need or interest by the PNC/R and PPP/C?

Yours faithfully,

Emile Mervin