Hours before President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo are due to meet on Wednesday, 13 civil society organisations met on Tuesday to address their deep concerns over the current political situation and called for their involvement in the process.
In a joint statement they said the meeting noted that Article 13 of Guyana’s constitution establishes the country’s government as “an inclusive democracy… for the participation of citizens and their organisations in the management and decision making process of the State” and asks that their voices be heard accordingly.
In a statement, they welcomed Granger and Jagdeo’s “expressed commitment to working together for the benefit of all of Guyana.” A Private Sector Commission representative, who was at the meeting, told Demerara Waves Online News that the civil society organisations wanted to send a clear message that they support inclusive governance. “That is something that we all believe is good for Guyana and so what we wanted to do this afternoon was to telegraph the message to them that we welcome that. Now, obviously there are people on both sides who may not welcome that. There are people on both sides who may have their own agenda and, for some people, having a divided nation is probably in their best interest and so we want to encourage the President and the Opposition Leader to use their public pronouncements as a guidance to their engagement” on Wednesday, the business executive said.
The political leaders had made their positions clear immediately following the passage of a no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018 by the National Assembly. The government has since filed with the High Court a number of challenges to the accuracy of the count – whether the absolute majority is 33 or 34 – and the validity of former government lawmaker, Charrandas Persaud’s eligibility to sit in the National Assembly and also vote in parliamentary matters because he is a citizen of Canada.
An umbrella civil society forum is, according to the source, expected to be established as a statutory authority to interface with the “political establishment and take our rightful place at the table.”
The civil society meeting and the planned talks between Granger and Jagdeo come against the backdrop of repeated calls by the opposition People’s Progressive Party for the government to resign and make way for general elections by March 19, 2019 when the 90-day constitutional deadline after the no-confidence motion expires.
The representatives at Tuesday’s meeting were from Transparency Institute Guyana Inc., Guyana Trades Union Congress, Guyana Public Service Union, Federation of Independent Trades Unions of Guyana, RISE Guyana, Guyana Bar Association, Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana, Citizens’ Initiative, Guyana Agricultural Workers Union, Red Thread, Roman Catholic Church, Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana, and the Private Sector Commission.