The time to talk Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
May 25, 2004

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THOSE who are familiar with the books that are central to the world’s major religions will know of a passage in the Holy Bible that says there’s a time for everything.

Preachers have made sermons from it, authors have written books revolving around it, and artistes have cut records about it.

Mr. Peter Ramsaroop of the REFORM alliance of the PNC/R echoed that passage when he appeared on One On One with Cecil Griffith on NCN on Sunday night. Asked what he thought of the impasse between Government and Opposition against the backdrop of domestic and international calls for the resumption of the dialogue between the country’s political rivals, Mr. Ramsaroop said it’s time for President Jagdeo and PNC/R leader Robert Corbin to resume their PNC/R-aborted talks.

Mr. Ramsaroop’s disclosure underscored the long-held belief that though Mr. Corbin has a constituency’s ego to represent, PNC/R supporters are among the majority of the Guyanese people who, like the international community, want to see the PNC/R return to Parliament and Government and Opposition get back around the conference table.

The point is, perceived attempts by PNC/R hardliners to make the country ungovernable won’t detract from the reality that the PPP/C was elected to office, any more than perceived attempts by some PPP/C activists to prevent what they feel is their party’s granting of “too many” concessions to the PNC/R cannot detract from the fact that Government has to look at the bigger picture – the fact that it is the PPP/C Government is the Government of all the people.

The usually-outspoken REFORM co-leader believes, as do most people, that PNC/R leader should reconsider his decision to freeze his discussions with the President solely on the basis of his party not being satisfied either with the number of decisions implemented, or with the pace at which the implementation process has been moving, at those inter-party meetings.

If only two of ten proposals tabled by the opposition are agreed to, both sides should cease the opportunity to work on those points of agreement and by so doing set the stage for agreement on more sticky issues.

As we see it, the purpose of the national dialogue should be to promote economic and political cooperation, collaborate on reforming parliament – perhaps returning to the first-past-the-post system where lawmakers will have to demonstrate effective individual stewardship if they hope to regain their parliamentary seats – and on ways to attract foreign investments, build and expand our socioeconomic infrastructures and geometrically increase industrial output. The dialogue must focus on examining ways to advance democracy, economic development and national reconciliation. Not for either party to use to gain partisan political mileage!

If, as Mr. Ramsaroop suggests, President Jagdeo should publicly indicate or reiterate his willingness to meet and cooperate with the opposition in a number of public policy areas, then Mr. Corbin should reciprocate by publicly opting for dialogue than for action that seem aimed to subvert rather than uphold the rule of law.

Dialogue between the two leaders can only redound to Guyana’s good. Simply convening would be an ideal way for them to initiate cooperation between opposition and government in putting Guyana first, in moving Guyana forward.