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Time for constitutional reform, end to race-based division – Senior American diplomat

Outgoing Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Guyana, Bryan Hunt (right) chatting with General Secretary of the opposition People’s Progressive Party, Clement Rohee at the farewell reception held Friday night.

Outgoing Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy, Bryan Hunt Friday night called for an end to winner-take-all and race-based politics in Guyana.

Addressing a farewell reception hosted by American Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, the Charge D’Affaires urged Guyanese to push ahead with constitutional reform. “Significant constitutional reform is essential. Power must be decentralised. The winner-take-all system must be abolished. Communities must be given greater control at the local level,” he said.

In apparent reference to the David Granger led administration’s social cohesion agenda, Hunt strongly suggested that repairing the divisions in Guyana’s society depended heavily on constitutional reform. “Regardless of who sits in government, about half the population feels completely excluded. This has to change. And bringing ab0ut that change requires going beyond conferences and workshops on social cohesion.

The American envoy also had some words of advice for political parties whenever they are defeated at the polls. “Those who lose elections, whether in the past, present or future need to accept their defeat and relinquish power gracefully rather than railing against “the system,” he said.

When the People’s National Congress (PNC) lost elections in 1992 for the first time in 28 years, there was widespread riot and looting in the city as some leaders in that party had felt that the party should have held on to power. There were also riots in 1997, 2001 and 2006.

When the PPP-Civic was defeated last year for the first time in 23 years, that party had appeared reluctant to give up power on grounds that it had been cheated and that sections of the international community had conspired to remove it from office. “Remember that the parliament ultimately belongs to the people, not the political parties. Party interest must be subservient to national interest,” Hunt added.

Among those present and listening to Hunt with rapt attention were several government ministers, the PPP General Secretary and members of civil society.

Hunt, who at one time was interim head of the American embassy in Guyana,  also called for an end to social exclusion and genuine equality of opportunity for all Guyanese. Clearly referring to the provision of boats, outboard motors, tractors, solar panels and other items to Indigenous Amerindian communities ahead of general elections, the American diplomat said that section of society must not be used as electioneering objects. “Indigenous communities must receive the support that they need to see genuine socio-economic development and that has to go well beyond hand-outs of goodies during election years,” he said.

Hunt’s next tour of duty takes him to Mozambique.

  • Emile_Mervin

    The PPP sent its master of disaster in place of the feral blaster.

    • rs dasai

      We have learnt from the best.

      • Surujpaul Rampersaud

        Does he realize that it was the US British alliance that imposed the monster of PR on Guyana. Is this an apology for his Govt’s mistake

        • Col123

          Mistake??? do you define that SR??

        • MEMES Unlimited

          PR was given to so many other countries in Caricom and they did quite well with it. And, the PPP/C actually won in “92” with same due to the very input from the US/Britain.

          • Surujpaul Rampersaud

            Each country is uniquely different. Please identify the so many countries. The ethnic make up of the Guyanese population does not favor PR where there is a winner take all policy. It just propagates ethnic voting.

          • MEMES Unlimited

            Baby steps, sir, I think…the USA led emphasis and “imposition” on the Granger administration to hold Local Government Elections (the “LGE”) is potentially the key input of the highest order…and to thankfully mention, the govt. allowance for same.
            The potential and inherent decentralization/delinking of power and authority from Central Government, by the Regional bodies, fosters the growth of regional independence and power to those inhabitants to truly build unique socio-political and economic platforms with tremendous sway over national elections, based on their requirements, expectations and structured business projections.
            The single impediment to be removed is the Presidential control (constitutional amendments) over the LGE Commission….lets see how that works out for next step.

  • Col123

    Some made reference to Uncle and Aunty Toms from both the PNC and PPP who are there …looks more like suckling pigs latching on to the teats on big mama… big papa in this case…

  • MEMES Unlimited

    Excellent summarized introspective review of our local environment…race, political dogma, moral & ethical conduct, tribal instincts, and our fragmented culture.

    Our race/tribal based parties must evolve beyond the “winner-take-all and race-based politics in Guyana”…and achieving such an enormous feat will require many fundamental changes to occur, in a collaborative manner, and primarily hinged on;
    “repairing the divisions in Guyana’s society depends heavily on constitutional reform”…..not just with lip service since “bringing about change requires going beyond conferences and workshops about social cohesion”.

    THE ABSOLUTE PRESIDENTIAL POWER and SHIELD FROM CRIMINAL/CIVIL PROSECUTION MUST BE REMOVED, FORTHWITH,….across the divide for all presidents of all parties, and Guyana. They must be held accountable for their actions and fulfillment of pre-election ideas and projections…only then can the people feel empowered…to enact challenges with suitable checks & balances and achieve better socio-economic development and sustainable cohesion.

    • Col123

      I believe that you would get a consensus on that…try to make the point on who will bell that cat!

      • MEMES Unlimited

        CoI123 (thanks for asking), I do think personally, and you and others may concur…the ONLY saving grace we have available to save us from ourselves…has to be outside of ourselves. A universal, external, and fair minded body has to be nationally accepted to pronounce upon our extreme constitutional challenges and deficiencies; none less than the United Nations body.
        All parties should agree to consultation with the UN to negotiate and draft binding constitutional amendments, ultimately agreed to by the population by way of referendum and enacted into law. They have the capacity and the technical expertise to so deliver and would willingly acquiesce to our request….FOR OUR VERY SURVIVAL AS A NATION WHERE ALL HAVE EQUAL ACCESS TO RESOURCES!!!

        • Col123

          Valid and credible thoughts..The challenge is “all parties should agree ” piece …worth looking into..Thanks

  • Surujpaul Rampersaud

    I am still awaiting the response of the British High Commissioner on this statement. It was the British under US influence who imposed PR on Guyana. In 1980 Burnham’s rigged constitution blessed PR. This system marginalized a sizeable portion of the population for the past 50 years. It is time for it to go

    • MEMES Unlimited

      SR, please….WHO is the “sizeable portion of the population (marginalized) for the past 50 years”?. With regards to the bloggers enacting some model platform for a consultative negotiation going forward for possible solutions…this can then be incorporated as a required redress issue

  • ExPPP_Man

    PR system is perfect for Guyana. Parliament is the place for consultative democracy. What he needed to say was to improve the way Parliament functions. The same PR system was good for them when it led to a PNC admin. Now they seeing that PNC cannot win an election fairly or by itself, they looking for ways to impose the PNC on the people forever, We know the ABC was part and parcel of the conspiracy to return the PNC to power.