Last Updated on Sunday, 30 April 2023, 21:55 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton believes he has a plan to ease racial tension in Guyana where the political playing field is split almost evenly between the two Afro and Indo-Guyanese.
Addressing Guyanese in Barbados at the weekend, he said his People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) does not use racism as a campaign tool but fight for Afro-Guyanese because they are “dispossessed”. “Therefore, we have created the basis on getting government to govern fairly,” he told the gathering.
He said government ministries would have to consider the racial make-up of their staff, if he is elected President at the next general elections expected to be held in 2025. “Your appointments to ministries have got to be balanced rather than the predomination of one ethnic group,” he said.
Mr Norton also cited the need for constitutional changes such as the establishment of a Tribunal of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) to listen to complaints. “The government has failed to activate it and we will activate that Tribunal so that people can go to an independent tribunal, make their complaint and have it dealt with in a particular way,” he said.
The PNCR Leader said Ombudsmen could be appointed to several governmental agencies to receive and address complaints of discrimination and provide rulings.
In the long-term, he said in the longer term mixed communities would have to be established in accordance with a new housing and development programme because there is evidence that there is greater harmony in those.
According to the Opposition Leader, special attention would also have to be paid to economic inequality. “We have to change some of the laws and put mechanisms in place to ensure wealth is mire equitably distributed so that all ethnic groups can develop,” he said.
Mr Norton’s PNCR/APNU is supported mainly by Afro-Guyanese and the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic is largely backed by Indo-Guyanese.