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|Prime Minister (PM) Mark Phillips, who was at the time performing duties as President, visited Melanie, East Coast Demerara, accompanied by eight other ministers.
In his visit last Saturday residents were told they will not be left out of the development taking place across the country, “as the PPP/C Government is inclusionary and places a high value on ensuring the livelihood of all Guyanese is improved.” “Inclusionary” is a new word added to the government’s vocabulary. This may be so at the urging of the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration, who told President Irfaan Ali during his recent trip to the United States, that they look forward to the practice of “inclusive democracy” and “shared prosperity” in Guyana.
Article 13 in the Constitution of Guyana prescribes, “The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy, by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.”
The A Partnership For National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Opposition which speaks politically for half the society, and won Melanie at the 2020 Elections, continues to make claims of being shut out from their role as required by Article 13. President Ali has repeatedly said he will not engage Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton, until the APNU+AFC recognises his government as legitimate, which is not a constitutional requirement.
The PM told residents of Melanie that “There are many projects that we have designed and will be implemented for Guyana, every community, and that’s why we have the concept of ‘One Guyana’, what we’re saying to you is no village, no community, no individual will be left out of our development.”
The gathering was also told “that the meeting is timely and that the concerns raised will be taken into consideration during the administration’s 2023 National Budget planning.”
General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress, Lincoln Lewis, in an invited comment on the government’s outreaches, notedly the PM’s in the absence of the President, said the “One Guyana he is talking about means the PPP/C makes all the decision, go the people, and tell them what the government will give them.
“What is striking in the visit to Melanie is that people are being told their concerns are not a priority and they have to wait until next year to be considered. That’s the one Guyana they are talking about- they ascribe to themselves the sole responsibility to determine in as much as the constitution mandates inclusionary democracy in the management and decision-making processes of the state on matters that impact the well-being of individuals and groups.”
He opined that the advice given by the U.S to the Jagdeo/Ali regime on inclusivity either flew over their heads or they lack the ability to comprehend when it comes to the question of respect for people and equity in the system.
Another concern for Lewis is that the PM always walks into villages and talks down to people and on occasion telling them who to mix with and what to do. “Phillips has not yet transformed from a soldier where he thinks he is talking to members of the military on a drill square to understand in civil discourse you don’t talk down to people but speak with people.”
In the Department of Public Information reporting, the PM in his visit to Buxton told those in attendance that “If we are talking about development, we have to do away with the detractors who tried to derail this session today….Your turn out is sending a strong message to the detractors who never wanted this to happen.”
In Melanie, the PM “called on residents not to be distracted by naysayers and to take full advantage of the training, business development and other opportunities that are available.” ‘Naysayers’ is another word the government has recently weaned into vocabulary. Lewis sees the use of the word as an attempt to silence and dismiss those who are prepared to analyse the government’s actions and hold them accountable.