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Race relations, not oil sector is Guyana’s biggest problem- Granger

Last Updated on Sunday, 1 August 2021, 11:57 by Denis Chabrol

Mr. David Granger

Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), David Granger on Sunday- African Emancipation Day- said race relations was Guyana’s major problem rather than the burgeoning oil sector.

“Guyana’s big problem is the problem of social cohesion. You may think that there are other problems- oil and the economy  and so on. The biggest problem we have is the ethnic problem and unless we solve that problem by fortifying the foundation for mutual respect, we’re not going to move forward fast enough to develop this country,” said Granger whose draws the bulk of his support from among African Guyanese.

President Irfaan Ali

President Irfaan Ali, whose People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is largely backed by Indo-Guyanese, on Sunday referred to his now six-month old proposed One Guyana Commission to address deep-seated ethnic insecurities but he did not say when that mechanism would be set up. “As I said during my inaugural address to the 12th Parliament earlier this year and as I have repeated on many occasions after, an essential part of my Government is inclusion. As Guyanese, we should be defined by our nationality and by our common love for our country. The establishment of the ‘One Guyana Commission” will give life to our vision of oneness,” said Dr. Ali. The President also stated that “our African-Guyanese brothers and sisters, that you will not be excluded from or left behind in Guyana’s national development.”

But Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon used the opportunity to again impale the PPPC administration’s record on race relations. “Today, we live under an installed regime that promotes and assures life-long insecurity for the majority of our people. Their open oppression goes beyond discrimination, racism, injustices and economic marginalisation. It is oppression with authoritarian attributes that threatens our liberties and our democratic society,” he said in his message.

Mr. Joseph Harmon

It is unclear whether there would be broad-based national buy-in to the government’s proposed One Guyana Commission because the PNCR-led APNU+AFC does not recognise the PPP as legitimately elected. The PPP has refused to hold political talks until the coalition accepts the results of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.

Both parties have accused each other of dismissing thousands of workers on coming to office within the past six years. The PPP has dismissed charges of discrimination against African Guyanese in the distribution of relief for COVID and the floods.

Mr. Harmon urged African Guyanese to fight for Guyana, to fight against today’s modern and contemporary challenges “we are experiencing by this installed regime- crime, violence, economic discrimination, policy driven racism, social injustices, political victimization and authoritarianism.”

The Working People’s Alliance (WPA), which was at one time part of APNU+AFC, has urged the PPP to open dialogue on national reconciliation as well as take steps to bring about executive power sharing, both aimed at addressing the cycle of racial tensions and insecurities.