Foreign intervention needed to solve political, social crises
-Dr Clive Thomas
Stabroek News
February 11, 2004

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Guyana is caught in a structural deadlock that can only be resolved through some form of foreign intervention, warns Dr Clive Thomas.

At Friday's closing session of the "International Conference on Governance, Conflict Analysis and Conflict Resolution," he observed that Guyana was in the midst of a serious national crisis which required a strategic vision.

Guyana needs intervention at the macro/national, intermediate/meso and the micro/local levels, Thomas said.

He listed, "the superficiality of national unity, the dynamics of racial arithmetic and insecurity and the unrelenting rise of both benign and militant extremism."

Guyana's predicament, he said, was compounded by the depth, scale, complexity and sheer persistence of economic misery and the growth of the narco-economy.

He added that the country's entrenched totalitarianism in a multiracial society combined with territorial threats and the criminalisation of the state all played their part.

Thomas asserted that Guyana's political and social crisis could not be solved without the intervention of the international community in the broader sense of creating the foundation for some resolution.

"Just as our development problems are so acute that we cannot solve them without the support of the regional and international community, similarly, our political crisis requires this type of intervention."

Asked to expand on the term `structural deadlock' during the debate that followed his remarks, Thomas alluded to the government's initial objections to the symposium and their attempts to review presenters' papers prior to actual presentation.

Foreign Minister Dr. Rudy Insanally had said on Wednesday that the government supported the three-day consultation, which featured delegates from several reputable regional and international academic institutions, but that it had previously expressed some concerns.

Thomas, meanwhile, deemed the government's attempted interference to be a violation of executive authority.

Dr. Prem Misir, also a UG delegate, described Thomas' remark of a `structural deadlock' as a macro-blanket statement. He said Guyana had one of the most inclusive constitutions [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] in the Caribbean region and had made considerable progress [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] since the PPP/C took office in 1992.

Misir said poverty had been cut from 86 per cent of the population in 1992 to 35 per cent in 1999.

A number of projects expected to spur local development were in progress, Misir said, including the Poverty Reduction Strategy Project.

However, Misir acknowledged, a lot of work was still needed particularly in the hinterland and sections of the Corentyne and Essequibo.

PNCR parliamentarian Abdul Kadir questioned the level of progress saying that Linden had numerous social problems.

According to Kadir, more than 1,000 people in the mining town had been recently laid off with only around 200 of these managing to regain jobs. Employment opportunities were almost non-existent and within the next two months at least 200 teachers would become jobless. Promises to fix water systems had not been kept, he said.

UG Lecturer Thomas Singh said the management of Guyana's type of conflict can be realised through constitutional change that will allow the central government to become more accountable to local jurisdictions; budget approval by a super majority rather than a simple majority in parliament; and the reduction of the poor's dependence on the government.

Singh also contended that ethical politicians and benevolent citizens could help.

Papers on the presentations delivered at this conference will be compiled into a document which it is hoped will be used by countries worldwide to objectively examine conflict management options.