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Parliamentary Representation

by Dr. Richard Vanwest Charles

Our elections are over. National discontent is ever present amidst the possibility of having a different parliamentary experience which many never thought the 1980 Constitution could have delivered. Some see this as progressive and a golden opportunity for collaboration in the national interest. Others feel that this new dispensation has given the national psyche to hope and expect the possibility of good governance in the absence of majority arrogance. This is critical in a multi ethnic society in which the majority government acts without consideration either by choice or unknowingly for the considerations of the other ethnicities.

For me this new parliamentary dispensation is a double edged sword for while I rather like this new arrangement which among nationalist and reasonableness should result in the best for our nation, this result has come about in essence on rank ethnic voting. This voting pattern cannot auger well for a multiethnic country which pays little or no attention to the manifestos of the neither political parties nor the character; experience and knowledge of the candidates on the list of the respective parties. Whilst the previous administration has formed the government albeit a minority one, it is still not cllear whether the behaviour of the past government may find its way into this minority government.

This new parliament should place the relationship between the parliamentarians in a different relationship than how they operated during the 9th Parliament. Although the Parliamentarians have not yet taken their oath it is important that all political parties should clearly state how our citizens throughout the length and breadth of Guyana can be in contact with the parliamentary representatives of the respective parties. We have to ensure that not only the government ministers and senior government officials are transparent and accountable but also the People’s Representatives. Hence all political parties should inform the citizenry of Cooperative Republic of Guyana who are the representatives for the respected geographical areas whether elected or not. Additionally, the location of the offices and the weekly or monthly schedule when the parliamentarians would be expected to be present in the geographical areas. We would want to see the role of the church; the unions and civil society organizing community and town hall type meetings to have dialogue with their representatives. We would want to hear the issues of the people being raised and debated to provide solutions. We have cases where parliamentarians attend parliament and hardly ever represent the issues of the people. 

We must begin to place our people at the centre and establish that the accountability of our parliamentarians must be the national interest and our people. The matter of Recall of Parliamentarians becomes directly related to accountability and performance of parliamentarians to the people as against to their respective political leaders. This now offers a good opportunity to strengthen the accountability to our people but it also calls for a more mature media in informing our people and reflecting their views instead of giving singular priority to that of the politicians. The success of this opportunity for a new beginning is up to all of us and more so requires our people’s involvement as stakeholders and not bystanders. Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and a New Year that makes Hope a reality built on Equity; Fairness and Justice for all.