Supporting the Proposed Government—Opposition dialogue

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This publication has been very clear that Guyana cannot survive the aggressive form of governance that the PPP has pursued since coming to power. As we editorialized two weeks ago, there is need for a return to accepted norms of governance. Given our divided nation, it is important that governments govern from the center. In other words, when all the campaigning and divisive rhetoric is over, it is imperative that the ensuing government be a responsible actor. The fragility of our political fabric has shown that it is incapable of withstanding the pressures of the governance of domination.

It is against that background that we welcome the recent initiatives being taken to get the president and the opposition leader to meet. That those initiatives are being taken by forces instrumental in helping the PPP to power is significant. Often it takes friends to nudge governments into realization of their shortcomings. It should be obvious to all by now that the government’s refusal to engage the opposition on both constitutional and other important matters has hurt its image. But more importantly it has enraged opposition supporters who understandably views the government as an illegitimate imposition.

We are aware that both the Lennox Shuman’s and Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry ‘s initiatives are being viewed with suspicion by some opposition supporters. The view that the GCCI, for example, may be more concerned with their self-interest than with national unity has some merit. But when the situation has deteriorated as much as it has over the last year, any initiative is welcome. We simply cannot continue along the current path.

Both President Ali and Opposition Leader Harmon have reacted favorably to the anticipated dialogue. That is a good sign. We however know from the dialogue following the controversial 1997 election that agreement is just the very beginning of what could be a very complex process. In the first place, they have to agree on the scope of the encounter. The Shuman initiative seems quite straightforward. The appointments of the top officers of the judiciary and the police force are long overdue. It is more than a minor scandal that these have not been accomplished.

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Having made that observation, we are well aware that it is unlikely that the two leaders would see eye to eye on the appointments. Given the prominence of the courts during the 2020 election impasse, there is bound to be some disagreements over the elevation of the two acting offices to the substantive positions. Clearly the recent criticisms of the Appellate court by two academics from the University of the West Indies have brought the issue into focus. The same problem is likely to arise with the appointment of the police commissioner. Given the PPP’s clear indication that it has an abiding interest in controlling the leadership of the police force, it is anticipated that it would propose a candidate it deems favorable to the party. This publication feels that while both sides may be tempted to play politics with these appointments, in the end the best candidates must prevail.

As far as the GCCI initiative is concerned, no one should doubt that the two sides should be meeting on the issue of Covid19. To the opposition’s credit, it has been ringing this bell for some time while the government remained unmoved. It is one of the most unfortunate decisions taken. By the government Let’s hope that this engagement bears some fruit.; our country needs such an intervention. Mr. Harmon may opt to link this issue to larger issues of governance. This could stall the dialogue. This publication thinks that would not serve either side well. Towards this end we suggest that consensus should always be the watchword. In the final analysis, Guyana needs to see its leaders talking



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