UK govt views the political situation in Guyana as 'potentially difficult' -Amos By John Mair in London

Stabroek News
October 25, 2002

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The British Foreign Office has admitted they are "worried" about the current situation in Guyana. The country faces an increasing crime wave and daily murders on its streets and has done for the last six months. Guyanese-born Baroness Valerie Amos, the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), told an audience at the High Commission in London that "the people of Guyana have to say to the government and opposition that it is time to stop". If this did not happen "there is a danger of an ethnic bloodbath and loss of life".

Baroness Amos had got off a plane that morning from Bali where she had been working day and night for five days to help the British victims of the Bali terrorist atrocity. She is Prime Minister Tony Blair's point woman on Africa and the Caribbean and a frequent visitor to the region and her homeland. Last April, she was the co-chair of the UK-Caribbean Forum in Georgetown. She spoke with some passion of the "need for all parties to work together for the future" and that a "new kind of politics is needed in Guyana" otherwise the already dire situation "could only get worse." Examples in other countries were not encouraging, she said, "this has to be halted - we have seen what happened in Jamaica".

She revealed that she had that very day met with the Commonwealth Good Officer for Guyana Sir Paul Reeves and her impressions of the current situation were based on that. That mediation provided some hope, as did the dialogue with the Social Partners. The government and opposition should listen to them, she urged.

Later, a senior British government official specialising in the region admitted that the FCO were "worried" about Guyana and were keeping a watching brief on the situation.

Minister Amos was appearing at the fourth Diaspora Dialogue at the High Commission, where two prominent Guyanese in the United Kingdom are questioned by a Guyanese audience. The other half of this 'Dialogue' was her fellow British Minister David Lammy of the Department of Health. He is of Guyanese stock though born in England.

Both Ministers expressed some despair at the recent turn of events in their motherland.