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Peace advocacy group established for elections, gets UNDP support

by Zena Henry

The question of a safe Guyana in what is being described as a critical, yet increasingly volatile election period remains fixed in the mind of some, and efforts are being made to let good sense prevail and Guyanese act lawfully regardless of the election verdict.

Peace advocacy group, “Guyanese for Peace” is one such body working behind the scenes to remind Guyanese that their loyalty lie with country and they should do nothing to jeopardize the order and stability of the country. The recently formed group is an informal one, but with powerful messages of peace, they are working with citizens and various stakeholders in a bid to keep the peace.

This is one initiative that has been on the minds of other concerned groups and organizations such as the local office of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The idea was to develop a mediation group that could communicate between the parties in the case of any unrest.

UNDP says that it had initially considered setting up a mediation panel of citizens and highlighted that now the main focus is on having a successful election. “Earlier in the election period we had considered creating a small group of individuals who could support any type of mediation if the need were to arise.  The idea was premature since all the parties are fully focused on ending the election period successfully,” the UNDP office here told Demerara Waves Online News.

The international organisation said that currently it is currently supporting the voluntary civil society group called “Guyanese for Peace” which is focused on building on the peaceful environment which has so far prevailed by continuing to advocate for peaceful elections.

According to the group’s website, Guyanese for Peace is a group of locals who, in their personal capacities, have been networking among themselves, “seeking to support the efforts of all those working at this time towards peace, stability, respectful engagement and inclusive prosperity in Guyana.”

“Guyanese for Peace” has so far produced and published several peace messages/ advertisements in the local newspapers. Its guiding documents include a UNDP-European Union supported approach titled “Supporting Insider Mediation:
Strengthening resilience to conflict and turbulence” and “Citizens in Action: Making Peace in the Post-Election Crisis in Kenya – 2008.”

They said that individually, the members come from different backgrounds, persuasions and affiliations. Collectively, they are committed to the values of peace, security, respect for diversity, inclusion, and social cohesion and to using their abilities and experiences to advance these values in the public sphere in a non-partisan manner. The group has no specific number of active members since the voluntary services of those who become involved are requested when needed.

Among the prominent push persons are Retired Major General Joe Singh, Chair of the Local Reparations Committee Eric Phillips, Dr. Paloma Mohammed- Martin, businessman Chris Fernandes, other intellectuals, private and civil society members.

Singh told Demerara Waves that while the group has no particular structure the message of peace is being disseminated where necessary. He said that the focus is to provide, “a network of civil society and other organizations to create a climate of peace and stability.”

Some of the work the group is involved in entails the advocacy of peace via the available mediums and the engagement of relevant stakeholders.  For more information visit the group’s website at: http://guyaneseforpeace.wix.com/guyanaforpeace

The website includes links to the Guyana Elections Commission’s database that allows registered voters to identify which polling station they should cast their ballots as well as Codes of Conducts for the media and political parties.