Smaller parties welcome Corbin's call to talk
Stabroek News
April 6, 2004

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ROAR and the GAP/WPA have welcomed the proposal by Leader of the Opposition Robert Corbin that future discussions on matters of critical national importance involve the parliamentary political parties and civil society organisations.

The Private Sector Com-mission, which had led the Social Partners Initiative, is also willing to be part of the dialogue according to its chairman, Dr Peter deGroot. The Trades Union Congress, which was also part of the Social Partners Initiative, according to its general secretary, Lincoln Lewis, will be guided in its response by the provisions of Article 13 of the constitution, but he says the movement is considering the issue.

In an address to the nation, Corbin announced that his party was disengaging from the constructive engagement process he and President Bharrat Jagdeo had initiated because of the government's less than timely implementation of decisions which had been taken.

ROAR's leader Ravi Dev in an invited comment to Stabroek News said both ROAR and GAP/WPA when consulted by Corbin before he entered into the constructive engagement talks had expressed the view that the discussion should include parties other than the PPP/C and the PNCR.

Dev said that his party holds the same position, as it is the only way to go. He explained that the two parties had based their advice on the results of the Jagdeo/Hoyte dialogue and the fact that whenever there are discussions involving only the PPP/C and PNCR they continue the polarised nature of the politics. He said if other parties were involved then proposals made by the other parties would have a better chance of being accepted if made by an organisation other than the PPP or PNC.

Dev observed that it is interesting that the Jagdeo/ Corbin process broke down as they were about to discuss the important question as to how this country would be governed, which involves a discussion on shared/inclusive governance.

Commenting on the anticipated difficulties in arranging such a dialogue, Dev said the difficulties should not be a hurdle to getting the consultations going, pointing out that they could begin with the organisations that have a mandate such as the TUC, the Bar Association and the parliamentary parties. He said there would always be accusations that this organisation or that individual is leaning one way or the other but that should not be allowed to get in the way of the serious problems confronting the country.

Bishop Juan Edghill, who chairs the Guyana Council of Churches, shares this view but he said in a comment to the Stabroek News last week that it should include organisations which have a constituency and whose officials are elected by them.

Sheila Holder of GAP/ WPA recalled Corbin being advised that he should not enter the discussions unless parties other than the PPP/C and the PNCR were involved. She said it was a pity that the wisdom of that advice was only now being recognised.

Like Dev, she said the other parties have as much right to be involved since when the two parties meet alone they are only concerned about what is of benefit to each of them. She said it was that sort of reasoning that led to ROAR and GAP/WPA being excluded from the meeting convened by President Jagdeo to discuss the holding of local government elections this year.

She said that while "they talk of their commitment to inclusive governance, they always come up short in practice."