President, Corbin urged to prioritise national interest
…in ‘Constructive Engagement’ process

Guyana Chronicle
December 21, 2003

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STAKEHOLDERS monitoring the Government-Opposition ‘Constructive Engagement’ process are urging the respective leaders to “quickly and unambiguously” reaffirm their willingness to subordinate constituent interests to national interests.

In a statement issued through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Stakeholder Group expressed concern that discussion on technical constraints and solutions has given way to political rhetoric.

“Comments have been made repeatedly by both sides discrediting each other, thereby undermining public confidence in the process and in the commitment of the parties to pursue meaningful change,” it said.

President Bharrat Jagdeo and Leader of the Opposition and People’s National Congress/Reform, Robert Corbin, signed a Joint Communique on May 6 last. Matters covered by it, and subsequent agreements, are being monitored by the Stakeholder Group, comprising representatives of other political parties, civil society, the diplomatic community and national and international agencies.

The Group met on Friday to review progress achieved since it last met with the High Representatives of President Jagdeo and Mr Corbin on October 1, 2003.

It said the review was based on a compilation of written statements, including correspondence and press releases, as well as on its perception of the ‘Constructive Engagement’ process during the past two months.

“The Group welcomes the statement by both leaders issued on December 15 on the selection of the Chair of the Police Service Commission and the nominee to sit on the Judicial Service Commission, and the expressed determination to advance the implementation of the joint agreements,” it said.

It also noted some progress since October 1 on physical enhancement in the National Assembly; the presentation of an interim report by the Disciplined Forces Commission; the appointment of an Interim Management Committee for the Municipality of Linden and the tabling of electricity sector agreements in the National Assembly.

“We regret, however, that in other areas such as the Broadcasting Bill, equitable access to State media and the depressed communities, progress has been slow and difficult, and substantial slippage has occurred with regard to agreed timelines,” the Group said.

It said it will be requesting revised timelines from the High Representatives.

The Group expressed further concern that progress “seems to be dependent on the availability of the two leaders to meet and that the implementation of agreed decisions appears to founder in the absence of meaningful delegation of authority to take decisions between such meetings.”

“Furthermore, reciprocal allegations point to procedural weaknesses in regard to the timely production of agreed records of negotiations such as those of the Appointive Committee,” it added.

The Group expressed commitment to supporting the ‘Constructive Engagement’ process, in keeping with its mission as outlined in the Follow-up Agreement between the parties.

It reiterated an offer to the High Representatives to provide every possible support needed to advance the process. This is while awaiting a further joint briefing by the High Representatives and indications of possible constraints to the negotiations and implementation of agreements, the Group said.

The UNDP has been mandated to perform secretarial functions for the stakeholders.