Republic anniversary address
President optimistic over dialogue
February 23, 2004
President Bharrat Jagdeo says he is confident that difficulties in the dialogue between him and Opposition Leader Robert Corbin could be overcome and he expressed hope that the new Commissioner of Police would succeed in refocusing the police force's operations.
In an address prepared for delivery at midnight last night on the occasion of the 34th anniversary of Republican status, President Jagdeo said he and Corbin have had several fruitful meetings. "I am a strong advocate of dialogue not only because it is natural to us as Guyanese but also because our reality dictates it. There are some outstanding issues to be resolved and I am sure that we will find a way to overcome difficulties and arrive at acceptable solutions". He added that his commitment to inclusiveness and participatory governance remains unshakable.
The president's remarks come in the wake of a recent declaration by Corbin that the talks were in a "precarious" state because of poor implementation of decisions and other reasons. Corbin told Stabroek News that the PNCR, which he leads, will soon make a statement on the status of the talks between him and the president. The two have not met since mid-September last year.
Complimenting the law enforcement and security forces of the country for their service in ensuring the safety of citizens, the President said he was hopeful that new Commissioner of Police Winston Felix "will prevail in his determination to reform the Guyana Police Force where necessary; build its morale, and refocus its operations in response to new societal realities".
The President, who recently sharply criticised sections of the media over their reporting on the death squad allegations, said he would be the first to rise to the defence of freedom of the press but freedom of the press did not mean the "right to behave in an irresponsible and malicious manner, besmirching character and destroying reputations. I anticipate that when the broadcast legislation is passed it will hold media houses to internationally accepted standards of professionalism and decency".
Saying that he was confident of Guyana's positive prospects as a nation, the President said that a careful and dispassionate analysis of most of the country's internal difficulties would "reveal their superficial nature and that they are rooted in a past of distrust and mutual suspicion".
He contended that the government had secured in excess of $80B from the international community for national development programmes which will lay the foundation for expanded economic activity. The president pointed to heavy investment by his government in infrastructure such as ferries and stellings, roads and bridges and transport facilities and said these serve as a catalyst for the integration of the country and greater diversification of economic activities.
He urged that today's republic anniversary be celebrated with pride and passion. "Let us pledge to do our part to move Guyana forward so that wealth will be where poverty now stands; peace will replace conflict; trust will consume suspicion; and harmony will unseat discord."