Course of action agreed
Stabroek News
September 12, 2002

Related Links: Articles on civil society
Letters Menu Archival Menu

A course of action was agreed yesterday when President Bharrat Jagdeo, the Social Partners and leaders of parliamentary parties held a joint consultation at Le Meridien Pegasus.

But the leaders divulged nothing further last night, all keeping to the decision that a joint statement by Chairman of the meeting, Dr Peter de Groot, who heads the Private Sector Commission (PSC) will be issued today. The other PSC member at the meeting was Ramesh Dookoo.

The meeting, which had been threatened with a boycott by President Jagdeo on Tuesday, lasted just under two hours. Stabroek News understands that it focused on the way in which the consultation would proceed with discussions on the crime situation and the implementation of constitutional reform measures. Before the meeting, the Social Partners group had circulated its position on what had to be done with regard to addressing these issues to aid the discussion.

President Jagdeo's threat of a boycott if Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis, was present at the meeting, was salvaged by agreements hammered out in meetings de Groot held with the GTUC and President Jagdeo on Tuesday evening and during yesterday.

President Jagdeo had said that statements by Lewis attacking the government disqualified him from being part of any honest broker effort at re-starting the dialogue between the PPP/Civic and the PNC/R.

A release from the Social Partners after those meetings said that Carvil Duncan would lead the GTUC delegation; Lillian Crawford-Abbensetts, the Guyana Bar Association (GBA) team; and de Groot the PSC. It said too that de Groot was mandated to serve as the spokesperson of the Social Partners group, which comprises the GBA, the PSC and the GTUC.

Information Liaison to the President, Robert Persaud, told reporters that the Social Partners' statement made President Jagdeo's attendance at the meeting possible. He said that it clarified Lewis's position and role in the Social Partners grouping as well as his position on the GTUC delegation.

Persaud said that at the initial meeting with the Social Partners, Lewis had held himself out as spokesperson for the Social Partners and the head of the GTUC delegation.

However, Stabroek News understands that at the meeting it was Lewis who put forward the GTUC's position in the discussion that took place.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting all President Jagdeo would say, apart from referring reporters to the statement to be issued today by de Groot, was that the meeting agreed on a course of action, which should lead to another meeting of the group. Attorney General Doodnauth Singh; ministers Gail Teixeira, Bibi Shaddick, Shaik Baksh, Henry Jeffrey, Leslie Ramsammy and Jennifer Westford as well as Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon accompanied President Jagdeo to the meeting.

Opposition Leader, Desmond Hoyte was even less forthcoming, simply telling reporters that de Groot would issue a joint statement today. Hoyte headed the PNC/R delegation, which included central executive members, Vincent Alexander, Oscar Clarke, Deryck Bernard, Faith Harding, Lance Carberry, James McAllister, Raphael Trotman, Lurlene Nestor, Artie Ricknauth and Clarissa Riehl, and Reform members, Stanley Ming and Dr George Norton

ROAR's leader, Ravi Dev described the meeting as good but went no further than saying that the discussion spoke to bringing new structures into being which could supersede the now suspended dialogue between the PPP/C and the PNC. Dev led a three-man delegation to the meeting.

PPP/C general secretary, Donald Ramotar was equally reticent. He was at the head of his party's delegation, which included Robert Persaud, and Civic members Odinga Lumumba, Robeson Benn and Ronald Ally.

Lewis, about whom all the controversy that nearly wrecked the meeting swirled, was cryptic. He told reporters that the leaders of his country "have to understand that criticism is an occupational hazard and if they can't stand criticism they should get out of public life."

Trade Minister, Manzoor Nadir who headed the delegation from The United Force also described the meeting as good but went no further. His delegation included Michael Abrams, Aubrey Collins and Joe Shaw.

Parliamentarian Sheila Holder also declined to say what transpired at the meeting, preferring, she said, to observe the undertaking to rely on the statement being issued today. With her at the meeting was Dr Clive Thomas.