DOCUMENTS ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE CARICOM MISSION TO GUYANA, 14-18 JANUARY 1998: STATEMENT AT CONCLUSION OF THE MISSION; JOINT STATEMENT BY THE LEADERS OF THE PPP/CIVIC AND THE PNC REGARDING THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY MISSION TO GUYANA; MEASURES FOR RESOLVING CURRENT PROBLEMS
Posted in: Press Releases | 17 January 1998 | Release Ref #: 06/1998 | 488
The Caribbean Community Mission to Guyana, January 14-18, 1998 resulted in agreement by the two major political parties - the People's Progressive Party (PPP/Civic) and the People's National Congress PNC- to a set of measures for resolving the current problems in that Member State.
On conclusion of the deliberations the following were issued:
Since our arrival in Guyana last Wednesday, we have been continuously engaged in furtherance of the objectives of the Chairman of CARICOM and his colleagues in the initiation of our Mission. That process has involved consultations with all the political parties in Guyana and with a wide cross-section of Guyanese society. Our efforts have been most intensively pursued with the leadership of Guyana's two main political parties, the PPP/Civic and the PNC.
It quickly became clear to us how great a reliance was placed on the success of our Mission by all sections of the Guyanese society. For our own part, we regarded our role as a privilege of serving the people of Guyana at a time of particular difficulty. We are, of course, enormously gratified that these efforts have contributed to the agreement reached by the Leaders of Guyana's principal political parties. We wish to record our particular gratitude to all who have assisted our work and to the many expressions of support and encouragement we have received.
The aim of the agreement is to reduce tensions, promote harmony and lay the basis for political co-operation in a manner designed to restore Guyana to a state of normalcy. We believe that, by agreeing to the Menu of Measures, Guyana's two primary political Leaders have sincerely committed themselves to a process conducive to closing the fissures which have appeared in the society.
In both the short term and the longer term, this initial agreement will require the strong and sustained support of all sections of the Guyanese community. We join the political Leaders, therefore, in calling for that support. A new environment cannot be created without conscious effort and resolve on all sides. We are certain that the people of Guyana have the will and determination to secure that environment and to assist the political leadership of the country in its joint commitments.
We call on all Leaders in Guyana to make special efforts at this time to contribute towards the reconciliation process. This involves, among other things, the termination of strident and controversial statements which could have negative effects both inside and outside of the country. We must stress the special obligation and responsibility which rests on the media to ensure that the flow of news is devoid of rumour and hype. It has a duty instead to focus on commentary and analysis of public issues in a manner that promotes good will and understanding rather than friction. We hope that the agreement will encourage others, especially the religious bodies (which today issued a collective commitment to healing and reconciliation), the labour movement, the private sector, human rights and other groups in civil society to continue their work for building a cohesive society. All must work together to ensure that Guyana uses its impressive endowments to the optimum advantage of all of the Guyanese people.
Both the short term and the longer term measures in that Menu have been set in closely negotiated time-frames. Meeting those targets requires resolute effort on all sides. Guyana must not be diverted from the path of peace and progress. Tonight's agreement provides a new opportunity for pursuing that journey. Guyana will need the support of all of its friends within CARICOM and beyond as it goes forward. We know that friendship is real. We urge that it be generously demonstrated at this moment.
As we leave Guyana, we wish to thank the staff of the CARICOM Secretariat for their unstinting assistance to us. We could not have discharged our responsibilities without their help. We owe a special debt of gratitude to Mr. Hugh Cholmondeley who contributed greatly to the fulfilment of our Mission by his knowledge of the country and of the current circumstances and his diplomatic skill and experience.
Finally, we wish particularly to convey our gratitude to President Jagan and Mr. Desmond Hoyte for their constructive responses to our efforts and their readiness to go the extra mile in pursuit of an honourable and efficacious approach to the resolution of Guyana's current problems.
We had both specifically welcomed the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Mission to Guyana mounted on the initiative of the Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of Grenada and the Bureau of the Community. Over the last 72 hours we have had the benefit of the assistance of the Mission led by Sir Henry Forde and including Sir Alister McIntyre and Sir Shridath Ramphal. We wish to record our gratitude for the assistance which was rendered to Guyana at a moment of need by our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean.
Together with many others in our country, we have fully cooperated in this initiative. As a result of these efforts, we have tonight agreed to a Menu of Measures for promoting the resolution of current problems. That agreement is being released to the public. We wish to commit ourselves to its furtherance and we jointly commend it to all Guyanese. We particularly invite all Guyanese to be motivated by a spirit of serious endeavour as we strive to develop a cohesive society and an environment in which our country's political, social and economic problems can be constructively resolved. In the implementation of both the short and longer term aspects of this agreement we shall need your sustained support.
We are specially mindful of the willingness of our CARICOM colleagues to remain engaged with Guyana in this endeavour. Our success in achieving its objectives will be the best expression of our gratitude for their efforts.
The deliberations and consultations undertaken by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Mission have confirmed an urgent need for the de-escalation of conflict emphasised in the Mission's initial Statement. The Mission concluded that resolution of current problems in Guyana must begin; and that this can only happen through a political process to which all contribute. The Mission has recommended to the Leaders of the two parties the Menu of Measures set out below. It considers that, if agreed by the two main political parties as an integrated package, these measures can contribute significantly to the resolution of existing problems.
The Menu of Measures has taken into account the contributions of all political parties and of civic groups. The Mission is of the view that these measures will commend themselves to the society as a whole and invites all members of the society to give their full support to them.
In this context, the Leaders of the PPP/Civic and the PNC have agreed as follows:
1. An Audit
(i) Without prejudice to any judicial process arising from the 15 December 1997 elections, an independent inquiry (the audit) will be carried out in two stages, namely:
(a) in the first stage, an urgent review of the due process of the count on and after 15 December 1997 (including the role of the Elections Commission) to be completed within three months of 17 January 1998 with a view to ascertainment of the votes cast for the respective political parties; and
(b) in the second stage, an audit of systemic aspects of the electoral process, including the post-balloting phase.
(ii) The audit will be carried out under CARICOM auspices by a team proposed by the Chairman of CARICOM, after consultation with the Leaders of the political parties which participated in the 15 December 1997 elections, and agreed to by the Leaders of the PPP/Civic and the PNC. The Terms of Reference for the conduct of the audit are annexed hereto.
(iii) The PPP/Civic and the PNC will cooperate in the enactment of any enabling legislation that may be required for the effective conduct of the audit.
(iv) The Parties to this Accord will accept the findings of the first stage of the audit as binding upon them; and the enabling legislation will provide for such findings to be admissible for the purposes of any Election Petition in respect of any matters of fact to which they relate.
2. A Moratorium
An immediate moratorium on public demonstrations and marches will be declared and implemented. The ban on these activities will be simultaneously lifted. These arrangements will subsist for a minimum period of three months from 17 January 1998.
The PPP/Civic and the PNC will activate arrangements for sustained dialogue between them with a view to fostering greater harmony and confidence and resolving issues on which agreement can be reached.
4. Constitutional Reform
(i) A Constitution Reform Commission will be established by law, with a wide mandate and a broad-based membership drawn from representatives of political parties, the Labour Movement, religious organisations, the private sector, the youth and other social partners. The Terms of Reference of the Commission and its membership will be determined by the National Assembly after a process of consultations with the political parties. It will be mandated to consult with civil society at large.
(ii) The Commission will also be mandated to conclude its deliberations and present its report to the National Assembly within eighteen months of 17 January 1998. The process for implementing the changes recommended by the Commission and approved by the National Assembly to be concluded in sufficient time to allow for post-reform general elections which will be held within eighteen months after the presentation of the report of the Commission to the National Assembly.
(iii) Among the matters to be addressed by the Constitutional Reform Commission will be measures and arrangements for the improvement of race relations in Guyana, including the contribution which equal opportunities legislation and concepts drawn from the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society can contribute to the cause of justice, equity and progress in Guyana.
5. Creating a New Environment
The political Leaders of the PPP/Civic and the PNC will issue a joint statement confirming their commitment to the agreed process of dispute settlement and their resolve to avoid the use by or on behalf of their respective Parties of language which is accusatory and which might have an inflamatory effect in the current political context.
For the purposes of the implementation of these measures, the PPP/Civic and the PNC will each appoint a senior representative with plenipotentiary powers for ensuring the smooth and uninterrupted translation of these agreed undertakings and arrangements into practice in a manner which supports the return of Guyana to normalcy.
7. CARICOM's Continuing Role
The Parties also accept that the Chairman and Bureau of CARICOM will retain a continuing interest in the implementation of the measures, and remain at the disposal of both Parties in that regard.
The Menu of Measures set out in paragraphs 1 to 7 above is agreed this 17th day of January 1998 by
PEOPLES NATIONAL CONGRESS
PEOPLES PROGRESSIVE PARTY/CIVIC
On behalf of the Chairman of the CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY