by Zena Henry
In his first address to the Parliament, President David Granger has once again called on the opposition to take their seats in National Assembly to represent the 49 percent of the population that would have voted for them at the recently held General and Regional Elections.
At the opening of the House of Assembly Wednesday June 10, after being closed for some 11 months, the President urged the disgruntled People’s Progressive Party (PPP) that Parliament is the place to lay all their concerns and they should come to the discussion table.
The opposition seats remained empty as the PPP after losing to the Coalition maintains that the elections were rigged. Instead of taking their seats in Parliament, they protested the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). The President stated however that the election and a new administration have been installed. He asked that the hostility and rhetoric be put aside as the “campaign is over”.
“We are now the National Assembly, not a political rally; we shall, in pursuit of the current good build bridges across chasms. I therefore renew the invitation to PPP to join the APNU and AFC in this honorable House to serve the people.”
“This is the time for collaboration not confrontation. This is the place, the halls of the National Assembly where we will conduct the great debate on Guyana’s future. This is the time for all Guyanese from hinterland to coastland… come together.”
Outside of this, President Granger told Demerara Waves that the PPP is not only being called to Parliament, but they are being called upon to join a national government.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon had sent a letter to the PPP requesting their participation in an “inclusionary governance” structure. However, PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee claimed that the letter was addressed to him from Harmon as General Secretary of the A Partnership for National Unity and not from government.
Rohee explained that the party’s interpretation of this was that they were only being requested so they take their seats in parliament and not to be included in governance.
President Granger explained however that since it was two parties that came together to form the Coalition then it was only fitting that a letter be sent to the PPP at this stage, at the political level.
“We sent the letter because APNU and AFC came together as parties and that’s how we formed the Cummingsburg Accord and feel it is quite appropriate to deal with this matter at the political level first. I have no objects if those talks take us to forming a governmental bond or governmental union- we can take it from there.”
“But the whole intention of that letter from Harmon is to get the talks started.” He said the important thing is that we want a government of national unity because 49 percent of the population cannot be locked out.
As it relates to the level of opposition involvement in inclusionary governance, the President said he is not placing any conditions. “I’m not going into talks with pre- conditions; let us see what points the PPP brings up. I don’t want to prejudice the talks by laying down any conditions, let us see what comes out. The three parties together can hammer out the modalities for the development of this country.”
The President believes however that the PPP’s current behaviour may come back to haunt them. He said all citizens expected that the parties they voted for would represent them and, “the PP has no right to deprive 200,000 people of a voice in the National Assembly. I think they will pay a heavy price for that. It shows disdain or contempt for the ordinary people of this country.”