A Surprising 'waiting' game
Guyana Chronicle
June 1, 2003

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IT IS a most disappointing and pathetic explanation to have come from the main opposition People's National Congress/Reform for its absence from last week's flag-raising ceremony at the National Park to mark Guyana's 37th anniversary of political independence.

In our last Sunday's editorial ‘In Pursuit of Change’ [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ], written against the background of the optimism generated by the "constructive engagement" communiqué released by President Bharrat Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Robert Corbin, we noted:

"Expected participation by the PNC/R (in the flag-raising ceremony) will itself be a most welcome departure from a pattern of political behaviour by that party which could not have been helpful in efforts to promote social cohesion and national unity..."

Alas, little was it realised for all the rhetoric and accompanying activities in relation to implementation of the decisions outlined in that Jagdeo-Corbin Communiqué, that the PNC/R, to the surprise of even loyal supporters, would have stayed away from such an important national occasion at a time when bi-partisan confidence-building gestures remain necessary.

True, unlike previous occasions when the PNC/R indulged in the divisive, sectional practice of staging its own version of a flag-raising ceremony, there was no resort to that behaviour this time around.

But it cannot expect its "explanation" to be taken seriously for its no-show at the National Park. To talk, as it did in its press statement, about waiting for "evidence of substantial progress" in the implementation of the Jagdeo-Corbin Communiqué is to miss, deliberately perhaps, what is so evident:

That success in the implementation of the provisions of the Communiqué is not a one-way process. The goodwill and cooperation of the PNC/R are vital. Indeed, progress on the way forward cannot be viewed as simply a matter for the Jagdeo administration and the governing PPP/Civic.

All are involved
The stakeholders of the society as a whole are expected to play their part if we are to achieve the essentials of the Communiqué and in making "constructive engagement" an integral pillar in the foundation we seek to build as a people and government to enhance social harmony and economic development in a stable national climate.

The truth is that having lost control of state power, the PNC/R still finds it difficult in 2003 to fully participate in our annual independence anniversary, while quibbling about the emphasis that should be placed on the observance of Guyana's Republican status.

Observance of 'Republic Day' cannot, by any criteria, minimise the overall significance of 'Independence Day'. That is why, from its beginning, the PPP/Civic administration moved to elevate the importance of our independence anniversary to its rightful place in our calendar of national events.

Those familiar with the long struggles for constitutional advancement and political freedom of Guyana, in which the PPP was very much in the forefront, can have NO reservations whatsoever why the creative energies of the Guyanese people and the resources of the State should not combine to make our annual independence anniversary a truly happy, unifying national occasion. It belongs to no one party, no one race or class.

It is to be hoped that rather than playing a "waiting game" on the implementation of the "Jagdeo-Corbin Communiqué to "review" its participation in the independence anniversary flag-raising event - which will be one year from now - the PNC/R would instead concentrate in fostering a more cooperative attitude and help the process of confidence-building across political and social boundaries.

President Jagdeo in his independence anniversary address spoke optimistically about a new standard of political conduct that he sees flowing from the agreement reached between the Government and the PNC/R opposition.

He spoke with deep emotion in envisaging this new standard of political conduct. The absence of the leaders of the opposition parliamentary parties, not just the PNC/R, did not deter him from expressing such hope as he addressed the nation.

In the final analysis, as Martin Carter reminds us: "All are involved..." One hand can't clap!

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