To the top of the slippery pole
Baroness Amos makes it to the British Cabinet
By John Mair in London
May 17, 2003
A workshop sponsored by the United Nations on Thursday came up with a number of recommendations to build social cohesion and reduce tensions in the country.
It was held at the Ocean View International Hotel, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara and the participants included representatives from the government, the opposition parties, non-governmental organisations and the international donor community, including the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, the British Government and the Canadian International Development Agency.
Among the recommendations was the need for clearly defined objectives for the measures to be taken to address the identified problems facing the country and for the participants in the process of constructive engagement to put the national interest first.
The workshop, put on at short notice, was intended to support the current talks between President Bharrat Jagdeo and PNCR leader, Robert Corbin.
Among the other recommendations are the need for conflict-sensitive reporting by the media; a public education programme focusing on the issues under discussion with particular attention to reaching the Amerindian, rural and hinterland communities; the need to strengthen the capacity of the various public institutions to support the process of constructive engagement; as well as the use of the parliamentary committee system to broaden the democratic process.
The creation of space to allow for people participation and the promoting of reconciliation at the community level through peace projects were also some of the other recommendations.
The workshop was opened by presentations by PAHO/WHO Representative Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi and Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon. Luncheon underlined the government’s commitment to the process. He also reiterated the government’s commitment to good governance, the demands of which he said involved an interplay of responsibilities beyond those of the government.
Luncheon observed that it was now widely accepted that good governance was a fundamental condition for development and a necessary ingredient in the recipe for bringing about normal politics in Guyana.
Commenting on the Jagdeo-Corbin communiqué, which he said should be the backdrop for all actions to promote cohesion and reduce tensions, Dr Luncheon said it provided opportunities for serious proactive engagements involving civil society with which the government intended to intensify its engagement.
However, he stressed that the legitimacy of the civil society organisations speaking on behalf of citizens must be established, especially where foreign interests provide them with support in the advocacy of their interests. One of the other recommendations was the need for civil society organisations to make clear who they were speaking for.
Luncheon also cautioned the donor community that while the introduction of best practices from around the world was good, more important were practices which produced tangible results in the local situation.
The other participants at the workshop were Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy, IMF resident representative George Bindley-Taylor, PNCR Chief Whip Lance Carberry, GINA Head, Dr Prem Misir, GAP/WPA parliamentarian, Sheila Holder and communications consultants Hugh Cholmondeley and Abraham Poole. Among the UN facilitators were Chris Spies, Dr Theo Gittens, Lawrence Lachmansingh and UNDP Acting Resident Representative Thomas Gass. (Patrick Denny)