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…says minorites being neglected as a result
By Lisa Hamilton
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Lenox Shuman said on Monday that it is evident that the two major political parties in Guyana continue to depend on ethnic disharmony for their political survival and benefit.
Speaking at the Ethnic Relation Commission’s (ERCs) National Conversation on Improving Ethnic Relations, Shuman pointed out while the two major political parties struggle for power, minority groups in Guyana continue suffer. Giving one reason for his position on the matter, he pointed to the recent dismissal of Afro-Guyanese by the current Administration and their replacement by primarily Indo-Guyanese. However, his intention was to highlight that it is concerning, in the first place, that a number of these “top tier” positions were held, primarily, by Afro-Guyanese under the former Administration.
“It is not that any political party has been willing to remove themselves from race politics or identity politics or to look for inclusive ethnic cohesion, it is that they depend on it for their political survival. Case in point is the current administration. We would have seen, through the APNU+AFC Administration, the drive to have many organisations, Goverment/State boards and all these places dominated by people of Afro-descent. If you would have looked at variety of commissions, looked at state boards, looked at other state entities, the majority of the top tier were afro-dominated,” he began.
“Coming to the close of 2020, just having finished a political cycle, and we are now seeing a complete reversal of that. You see that a majority of state entities, the top tier of administration in itself, is dominated by an Indo-centric population.”
The LJP Leader said that his intention was to draw to the fact that as the struggle continues between the two major political parties and the countries two largest ethnicities, minority groups remain seemingly invisible. Providing additional examples, he said that no indigenous person has been included on any of the recent State Boards of the APNU+AFC or the PPP/C.
Shuman’s claim is especially not grounded in fact with regards to the APNU/AFC Government as a number of indigenous peoples were placed on state boards and other agencies. Among them were:
Jean La Rose and Mervyn Williams, both served at different periods on the GNNL board;
Davìd James and Martin Cheong.They were on the GGMC and EPA boards respectively. They were several other appointments of indigenous peoples serving in various capacities.
“I’m not saying that because I want to advance indigenous peoples cause at this level, I’m saying that to identify how indigenous peoples are excluded from being incorporated into the structures that are meant to diffuse racial tension and to sow the seeds of racial harmony,” he stated.
Shuman added that, while several other minority groups exist, indigenous peoples represent the largest of the minority groups and, as a fellow indigenous Guyanese, he speaks in representation of them. He said that the major political groups in Guyana ought to move away from such practices which continue to harm Guyana’s ethnic relations and practice instead inclusion, of all peoples of Guyana, whether within the majority or minority.
Furthermore, he told the audience that Guyanese must not be dominated by their history but must be honest about it and, in that way, politicians can no longer benefit from the existence of ethnic disharmony.