Corbin: political dialogue 'precarious'

Stabroek News
November 19, 2003

Related Links: Articles on 'Constructive Engagement'
Letters Menu Archival Menu

Opposition leader Robert Corbin is maintaining that the constructive engagement pro-cess is in a "precarious" state, despite the government's denials.

"We can continue giving our own interpretation of what transpired during the process of constructive engagement but, ultimately, it is the people of Guyana who will make that assessment," Corbin wrote in a letter to President Bharrat Jagdeo dated November 14.

Last week, in another letter to the President, Corbin complained that major progress had yet to be made in the dialogue since he and President Jagdeo signed the May 6 communique and the September 15 Follow-up Agreement. He also called for a review of the monitoring mechanism over delays encountered in implementing agreements in the communique.

However, in response, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, on behalf of the absent President, disputed Corbin's claims, which he described as surprising.

In his letter dated Novem-ber 14, Corbin says, "whatever may be the explanation, I contend, that the facts stated in the second paragraph of my [previous] letter are indisputable...."

These facts include the non-establishment of the constitutional Service Commis-sions and the appointment of the new Police Commissioner, which Corbin said was due since the President's April 2002 consultation with then Opposition leader Desmond Hoyte. He suggested that a new police commissioner be appointed in an acting capacity until the Police Service Commission is appointed, since that is how the current commissioner, Floyd McDo-nald was installed. He also said the party would support legislation awarding retroactively to senior officers benefits to which they may have been entitled had there been a commission.

He said the review of the procurement legislation had yielded no results and the Public Procurement Commis-sion was still to be set up.

Corbin also complained about the work of the De-pressed Communities Needs Committee, which he said had yet to begin work on three of the agreed second-phase projects because co-Chairman of the Committee, Philomena Sahoye-Shury says she did not receive instructions from the President.

Corbin's other concern was putting the mechanism in place to ensure equal access to the state media.

The Prime Minis-ter responded to these issues but did not address the work of the Depressed Com-munities Needs Com-mittee.

A report on that Committee's meeting on October 21 by the PNCR's co-Chair-man, Clement Cor-lette said that when Sahoye-Shury was asked to report on the progress of agreed projects in Region 6, she said she had not been informed about the projects and had nothing to report.

She did agree to meet with her principals and was to report to the next meeting on October 28.

In their Follow-up agreement, Corbin and the President agreed on projects to be completed in Regions 6 and 10.

Corlette's report of progress in Region 10 is mixed.

Work on the projects in Blue Berry Hill is said to be proceeding in an orderly manner, with 30% complete. But the work on projects in Victory Valley is said to be disorderly and the projected completion time is not expected to be achieved. Work on the $5.5M projects, which began on September 17, is scheduled to be completed by November 22.

"The essence of my letter, therefore, is to bring to your attention the precarious state of the constructive engagement process and to advise of the danger of the loss of public confidence in it," Corbin says in his letter.

He added: "you may, however, disregard to our peril, the points that I have in good faith made".