Dialogue cannot be switched on and off
- President says in independence address
Stabroek News
May 27, 2004

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A coruscating fireworks display during the annual flag raising ceremony at the National Park on Tuesday night. (Photo by Ken Moore)

President Bharrat Jagdeo says that dialogue must not serve selfish political interests and cannot be switched on and off at the behest of political expediency.

"It must be founded on the belief that all Guyanese have a stake in the future of our country...", Jagdeo said in his address to the nation on Tuesday night, during which he urged more maturity in the political landscape.

"I believe that our politics has to mature to the point where we can solve our problems without resort to threats of violence or holding hostage the proper functioning of national institutions," said Jagdeo, alluding to the breakdown of talks between him and PNCR leader Robert Corbin. Corbin withdrew from the dialogue over the government's then unrelenting position on an investigation of the death squad allegations and the nonimplementation of agreed decisions. He has indicated that these issues need to be addressed before talks can resume. The previous dialogue between Jagdeo and the late PNCR leader Desmond Hoyte was also called off by the PNCR because of dissatisfaction over the implementation of decisions reached.

Jagdeo said a lot of work has been done to create an environment conducive to the participation of all citizens in the political, economic and social life of the country. And he stressed that in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society like Guyana's, politicians and all others must avoid postures that sow the seeds of discord and division.

He said the new Constitu-tion provides new chances to consolidate the multiparty system of democracy and promote greater inclusivity in the conduct of the affairs of the country. He said the system also allows the political opposition to play an essential role in nation building, not only in parliament but also in other ways.

Forest rhythms: Performers at the cultural show at the flag raising ceremony. (Photo by Ken Moore)

Though he acknowledged that differences and disagreements between and among political parties was inevitable, he said it is important to resolve such differences in a manner that allows for continued development of the country.

Jagdeo also reviewed recent government achievements and noted

that the bauxite industry is starting to emerge from a long period of decline. Saying that difficult and painful reforms of the past decades, like record job cuts, are starting to pay dividends, he said many global bauxite leaders have shown interest in local investments. He added that this was also due to the recent climb in international prices for bauxite products.

Jagdeo said he was contacted by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning who updated him on the Twin Island Republic's recent plans to build an aluminum smelter. He said Manning shared his hope that the project would create linkages and impact favourably on local bauxite.

Trinidad and Tobago has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alcoa to construct a multimillion dollar smelter.

On the local scene, Jagdeo said there are three large projects that are engaging the government's attention. These are the construction of an international conference centre at Liliendaal, the World Cup cricket stadium at Providence and the Berbice River Bridge.

He said when these projects are completed they will enhance the country's capacity to host international events, offer a topclass sporting venue and reduce the woes associated with delays in the ferry crossing between Rosignol and New Amsterdam.

He also opined that the infrastructure network will be improved by major drainage and irrigation, sea defences, roads, bridges and electricity projects that are ongoing or soon to be implemented.

Jagdeo saluted the security forces for containing the crime situation but warned against complacency. He said crime is always cause for concern and the government has been spending more on the security forces to improve their crimefighting capabilities. He also urged citizens to play their part in the continuing battle against crime.

Despite significant investments in various sectors, the president noted that there are still complaints about irritants in several parts of the country and he called for better management of resources.

"It is time that we improve our management of resources and make

better use of the facilities we are putting in place. I believe that those who are managing the various systems will get far better results if they try a little harder and show some compassion and care for the general public," he said, adding that instances of mismanagement of resources and corruption must be weeded out.