Last Updated on Thursday, 23 March 2023, 17:33 by Denis Chabrol
General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday again effectively ruled out executive power sharing with the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) in the near term because of a lack of trust or shared principles.
“There is no building trust. In fact, we are going farther apart because everyday APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) pushes only one agenda- racism agenda- and they are unwilling to acknowledge and say ‘we support free, open, democratic elections’. They would say it in words but not really subscribe to it,” said Mr Jagdeo, the 2nd Vice President of Guyana
However, he left the door open to the possibility of power sharing if Guyanese choose that governance model in the constitutional reform process that could begin work later this year. Mr Jagdeo also hinted that the PPPC would be willing to consider changing the model of the Guyana Elections Commission. “But we need a model that safeguards free and fair elections and if there is a proposal that comes out about some form of executive power sharing and it has resonance with the people, maybe we’ll have to go to a referendum of some sort,” he said.
Reiterating his 20-year old position on building trust towards inclusive governance, Mr Jagdeo said the political parties need to share values such as free and fair elections, economic and social approaches, and eschewing racism. “You have to share common values for that to work or else you bring the same gridlock that we have in Parliament now into the Cabinet and nothing happens. We have seen it; it has happened in many countries so you have to have a period of building trust and only then you can have that happen,” he said
He touted existing forms of inclusive governance through constitutional amendments such as the parliamentary management committee, five rights commissions through a two-third support, four standing parliamentary committees, Procurement Commission, and mandatory agreement between the President and the Opposition Leader on the appointment of a Chancellor and Chief Justice. In addition to fewer meetings of the Public Accounts Committee in recent months because of the failure of government members to attend, the four standing committees have seldom met under the chairmanship of the governing People’s Progressive Party.
The Vice President’s position on power sharing came three days after the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) revived its decades-old concept of executive power sharing in which the President and Prime Minister would be drawn from each major party and the major ministries would be headed by persons from those parties. “We, in the WPA, are saying that in the context of oil that that governance system must change and we are arguing that there must be constitutional reform before the next election so, at the end of the day, when we finished voting race- and we know we vote race- when we finished voting a partisan way for the parties of our choice, the constitution must say both of these groups…must manage the affairs of the nation,” he said.
But Mr Jagdeo dismissed the WPA’s overall stance in recent times, saying that that party’s posturing was aimed at propelling itself back into the limelight among opposition diehards. “To show that they still have this relevance, they go out and they go and make these outrageous comments and hope that the outrageous comments will trigger a public outcry and they get their names mentioned and the WPA suddenly comes alive back on paper,” he said.
Without referring specifically to any of the WPA executive members or any particular utterance, he said called on the civilian law enforcement agency to take firm action. “This is a law and order issue and it requires immediate actions and you will see how quickly many of them will retreat so this typical of a dead organisation trying to resurrect itself once again by making these wild statements,” he added.
The WPA has been demanding equitable redistribution of oil revenues to African Guyanese as well as an end to other forms of discrimination such as the removal of Afro-Guyanese from government lands and the award of contracts.