PPP conference condemns attempts to undermine discipline
Guyana Chronicle
August 10, 2004

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THE People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has come out against attempts to sow dissension among its ranks and says it is sticking to its “organisational principle which is seen as an important prerequisite for party democracy and discipline.”

The stand came at the first of several party `county’ conferences Sunday in the traditional PPP Berbice stronghold.

Party General Secretary Donald Ramotar said the conference “condemned and rejected attempts that are being made to undermine discipline and create disunity among party members.”

“The strengthening of the PPP both organisationally and ideologically was seen as an important precondition for defending the masses against a hostile opposition media and opportunistic and racist elements”, he told a news conference at the PPP Freedom House headquarters in Georgetown.

He did not go into details but the PPP recently expelled a prominent member in its leadership structure for going against party policy.

The Berbice county conference of the main partner in the governing PPP/Civic alliance was held at the New Market Primary School, Corentyne with more than 300 members attending, Mr Ramotar said.

President Bharrat Jagdeo was among those addressing the meeting.

Ramotar said the conference resolved to work tirelessly to ensure another PPP/C victory at upcoming general and local government elections.

This is seen as extremely crucial to preserve and expand the gains in critical areas of national life including education, health, housing and water and in defence of freedom and democracy “which were denied the people of Guyana during the nearly three decades of PNC (People’s National Congress) authoritarian rule”, he said.

Ramotar said the conference placed emphasis on the local political scene, in particular with respect to attempts by the PNCR to blackmail the country and sabotage the developmental efforts of the government.

It reiterated President Jagdeo’s position that parliament is the correct forum to discuss and deliberate on matters of national importance.

“In this regard, the decision by the PNC/R to withdraw from parliament and engage in disruptive and anti-national activities calculated to injure our national interests, were roundly condemned by the conference,” Ramotar reported.

Responding to suggestions that it was unnecessary for his party to have submitted a motion on the recent visit to Taiwan by PNCR Leader, Robert Corbin, he said the visit was not in the interest of Guyana but did not elaborate.

As regards executive power sharing being advocated in some quarters, Ramotar reiterated the party’s position as adumbrated by President Jagdeo that there is need to build trust.

He, however, pointed out the pitfalls where this was tried, specifically mentioning what took place in Zimbabwe, where the ZAPU/ZANU coalition government crumbled.

But Ramotar noted that power sharing is taking place at different levels, citing the workings of various parliamentary committees and at the regional and local government level where in some instances bodies are controlled by the opposition.

He said the conference also noted the recent ruling of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with respect to the European Union’s (EU) sugar subsidies and the proposed reduction of sugar prices for exports from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

Asked if the conference discussed the likely impact of the proposed lower sugar prices on the party’s support, the General Secretary said it was discussed in the context of a national issue bearing in mind the significance of the sugar industry to the local economy.

He said he is convinced that the party’s supporters understand that it is not the government that is proposing reduced sugar prices.

Delegates commended the government for the substantial gains over the past 12 years, especially in providing social services and expanding and deepening the democratic processes, despite the obstructionist tactics of the opposition, Ramotar said.

Discussion on the party’s programme as presented by Central and Executive member, Mr Navin Chandarpal was lively and constructive, Ramotar said.

He told reporters that members endorsed the overall thrust and broad principles of the programme as presented to the last PPP Congress and agreed to a proposal to mandate the Central Committee of the party to incorporate amendments to the programme emanating out of the deliberations of the county conferences.

At the international level, attention was drawn towards the tendency by the bigger powers to act unilaterally and to take actions which are not in the best interests of the poorer countries, he said.

He added that the unstable situation in the Middle East, in particular Iraq, and the huge subsidies paid to farmers in Europe and North America were seen as concrete manifestations of such tendencies.