‘It is the same old PPP/C’

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—Shuman unimpressed with govt, calls for rescinding of Marudi Mountain mining agreements
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Lenox Shuman has called on the Government to rescind the Marudi Mountain Mining Agreements over lack of consultation with the Indigenous Peoples.
“The PPP Government did not facilitate meaningful dialogue with Indigenous Peoples on the Marudi Mountain Gold Mining Agreements. The agreements should be rescinded and returned to the table for discussions to ensure they are in compliance with Indigenous Peoples Rights at their core,” Shuman said in a Letter to the Editor on Sunday.

He said while Indigenous Peoples are not against mining, they are unapologetically against the trampling of their rights.
“I support the SRDC and the Wapichana Nation of the South Rupununi and call on the Government of Guyana to rescind the mining agreements and return to the table for discussions. This would be a clear indication of the value the PPP Administration places on Indigenous Peoples and their intent on being one that respects the Constitution and the rule of law,” the Deputy Speaker said.
Cognizant of the impact of mining on Indigenous Peoples, the Deputy Speaker said he offered his services “wholeheartedly and apolitically” to the Government in an effort to resolve those and other issues plaguing the Indigenous Peoples. Initially, his offer was taken up by Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat but after some two meetings, it would appear that Shuman was disinvited.
“I attended “one” meeting with the Minister and a team from the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC) and one meeting with the Minister and the Toshao of Chenapau to address mining in the Kaieteur area. I have not been invited to another meeting since on any issue(s) surrounding Indigenous Peoples. I now see the reasons for and the outcome of such omissions,” Shuman explained.

The Deputy Speaker is now of the view that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration has zero intention to facilitate meaningful consultation the Indigenous Peoples on any matter.
“It is also my informed view that they intend to throw money at the problems the Indigenous Peoples face instead of genuinely trying to find comprehensive solutions to addressing them. By addressing the issues comprehensively, it empowers Indigenous Peoples which poses a problem to the PPP and that is far removed from the MO and intent of the PPP,” he reasoned.
Citing an example, the Deputy Speaker pointed to the Law Reform Commission (Amendment) Act 2021. It was explained that its first draft, the Bill provided for input from Constitutional Commission, however, excluded input from the Indigenous Peoples due to the exclusion of the Indigenous Peoples Commission. Against that background the Deputy Speaker had objected.
“The IPC also has non-indigenous entities on it, and I recommended that the National Toshaos Council (NTC) be the body to nominate a candidate to represent Indigenous Peoples. After five months of back and forth, my recommendation was finally taken on and the law was passed with the amendment that the NTC will nominate a candidate.

Upon completion of their process, the NTC nominated a candidate who, from an Indigenous Peoples perspective, is eminently qualified for that and many other positions relating to Indigenous Peoples. When the nomination was made to the AG’s office, the candidate was removed from the list and replaced by another more pliable candidate of non-indigenous persuasion,” Shuman pointed out.
The exclusion of the NTC nominee was raised with the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, who advised that the matter be raised with President Irfaan Ali.
“I anticipate the President is much like David Granger in terms of deferring meetings and respecting the constitution. I await that meeting,” Shuman posited.


He said Indigenous Peoples have consistently asked for one thing from the Government – that is for their rights to have control over their lands and territories be respected as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“Until such, it matters not which administration preaches a mantra of ONE GUYANA, SOCIAL COHESION or whatever new slogan will be championed, the two sides of the coin will continue to show us their freshly polished brass in vague light trying to pass off as newly minted gold,” Shuman said.
He said it is clear that Indigenous Peoples are living in a dystopia due to the continuous trampling of their rights, the multitude of constitutional infringement and the lack of access to justice.
“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples contains forty-six Articles of which forty-five are based on our rights and signed on by member states in relation to respecting our rights. The UNCERD, IAHCR and a variety of other international organisations have scolded the Government of Guyana (both PPP and APNU/AFC) in their shortcomings in relation to Indigenous Peoples and the Government of Guyana has taken a calloused approach to addressing the fundamental issues,” he further pointed out.

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