Civil society should plug constitutional measures in resolving political impasse -Dr Luncheon
Stabroek News
August 1, 2002

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Civil society should exert as much pressure and influence to ensure the implementation of the constitutional provisions on shared governance and inclusivity in seeking to resolve the current political impasse in the country, Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon says.

At his regular post-Cabinet briefing at the Office of the President yesterday, Dr. Luncheon noted that over the past week, members of the Guyana Council of Churches, religious leaders of the Muslim and Hindu faiths and a civil society grouping that included the Guyana Bar Association, the Private Sector Commission and the Guyana Trades Union Congress met with President Bharrat Jagdeo and the issue of shared governance was a key proposal.

He said that reference was made to Article 13 of the Guyana constitution that speaks of shared governance and the involvement of citizens.

The meetings with the President, Dr. Luncheon said, involved a sharing of mutual concerns about the situation developing in Guyana and some proposals "more or less of a formal nature" were made on the way forward, including what may be termed new models of governance.

He said that it was government's intention to address the issue based on constitutional provisions already in place and to give those measures a chance to work.

While civil society may be seeking new models of governance, Dr. Luncheon said that it was the government's opinion that it should not ignore what already exists and had come into being in the Constitution through the recent constitutional reform process. And he observed that Guyanese were familiar with the process, cost and duration of the reform process.

Referring to the provision that dealt with measures for the creation of constitutional commissions on ethnic relations, human rights, gender and equity, children, indigenous people and procurement, Dr. Luncheon said it is government's contention that they are constitutional expressions of shared governance. Unfortunately, these commissions have not been appointed, he said because of the impasse between the ruling PPP/C and the opposition PNC/R.

The proposed members of these commissions must enjoy bipartisan support to be appointed. Important too, he said, was the inclusion of investigative and sanctioning authority vested in the commissions unlike those in the past that were "without teeth."

The government, he said, feels that the appointment of the commissions was essential to deal specifically and comprehensively with, among other issues, allegations of discrimination, victimisation, marginalisation and corruption.

Allegations in these areas, he said, should be directed to these bodies with their powers to carefully adjudicate on these matters and find remedies.

While there may very well be additional measures to address the notion of shared governance and inclusivity, Dr. Luncheon said that there was an entire menu of constitutional measures that was yet to be implemented.

Civil society may pursue finding additional models of shared governance and inclusivity after the implementation of those agreed on in the Constitution, the head of the Presidential Secretariat posited.