Week of good news
Guyana Chronicle
May 4, 2003

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BY ANY criteria, the week just past would be viewed as one of very good news in this nation that has, regrettably but understandably, grown accustomed to bad or negative news.

Finally, after much delay, double-speak and agonising periods, there was the resumption of the high-level bipartisan dialogue and an end to the parliamentary boycott by the main opposition People's National Congress/Reform.

With a single exception to participate in a private members motion from the opposition, the PNC/R's MPs have been on an unprecedented boycott of parliament for over a year, taking advantage of unprecedented extensions of absence to ensure receipt of salary and allowances.

Friday's sitting of the National Assembly was in stark contrast to the indecent political rowdyism that prevailed last month when the Finance Minister was presenting the national budget.

In a welcome atmosphere of political maturity and camaraderie, with positive gestures from both sides in the parliament chamber, the PNC/R's leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, took the oath as new Leader of the Opposition.

That office has been officially vacant since the death of the party's former leader, Mr. Hugh Desmond Hoyte, who had led the original boycott of Parliament. Now, once again, the high-level dialogue could be reported as being between the Head of State and the parliamentary Opposition Leader.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Gail Teixeira, speaking on behalf of the government benches, expressed the view, in congratulating Corbin on assuming the constitutional office of Opposition Leader, that the day's sitting marked an "historic event".

Ethnic Relations
And so it was, coming against the very encouraging agreements reached between the President and Opposition Leader in the establishment of seven new Standing Committees of the National Assembly, among them the significant Parliamentary Management Committee that heralds a new dimension in parliamentary governance.

Good news also that, at long last, the members and alternate members of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) have finally taken the oath and are ready to play their part in promoting racial unity and social cohesion.

By their initial statements, both President Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Corbin have signalled a commitment to make a reality the decisions they have made - in the national interest.

As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Guyanese people, of all political persuasions, race, class and religion, anxiously look forward to the progress ahead.

No one will be so unwise as to expect miracles. Indeed, there may be some bumpy patches to overcome. But if there is the political will to overcome, all hurdles can be removed - in Guyana's interest.

It would not have escaped attention either that the good news on the future for dialogue and functioning parliamentary democracy, came in a week when there was a most significant joint Communiqué between Guyana and Venezuela. It was released at the conclusion of two days of meetings by their respective Foreign Ministers, Mr. Rudy Insanally and Mr. Roy Chaderton.

The 21-point communiqué augurs well for the forging of a strengthened and mutually satisfactory relationship between two neighbours that seem ready to demonstrate to others how sovereign states can translate political will into peacefully and creatively resolving problems, some inherited from a colonial era.

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