1. In signing the `Herdmanston Accord’ on 17 January 1998, the Leaders of Guyana’s two main political Parties stated that they are doing so `specially mindful of the willingness of (their) CARICOM colleagues to remain engaged with Guyana in this endeavour’. It is in this spirit that as colleagues we have taken the opportunity of our St. Lucia Summit, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of CARICOM, to initiate a dialogue with them on the current situation in Guyana – conscious of our own full participation as signatories to the `Herdmanston Accord’.
2. We are also fully resolved that it is pre-eminently our task – to be in the front line of all efforts to assist Guyana as part of our own family.
3. Our conversations with President Jagan and Mr. Hoyte have convinced us all of the necessity to return Guyana to the agreed path of the `Herdmanston Accord’ – within the time-frame agreed in the Accord. Convinced that there is no time to lose in securing this, we have resolved together to place our collective commitment behind the undertakings, arrangements and measures in paragraphs (a) to (j) below to which President Jagan and Mr. Hoyte, representing the PPP/Civic and the PNC respectively, have agreed between themselves and with CARICOM, namely –
All parties to the `Herdmanston Accord’ reaffirm their commitment to the Accord, and to the implementation of its provisions as initially contemplated.
Both stages of the Electoral Audit as provided for in paragraph 1 of the `Herdmanston Accord’ have been presented to the political Parties in Guyana. All the parties to the Accord have agreed to accept the findings of the first stage of the Audit – as set out in paragraph 1(i) (a) of the Accord – as binding upon them; but it is recognised that this does not preclude the pursuit of electoral petitions which have been filed in the courts by both parties.
The next substantive step to which the parties are committed under the Accord is that of Constitutional Reform on the basis and within the framework provided for in paragraph 4 of the Accord. We recall that provision specifically and reaffirm our determination to pursue it in spirit and letter.
Mindful that 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’ – It is accepted that the parties will take steps for the early implementation of specific measures to achieve these objectives in advance of constitutional reform itself.
We are all agreed that it is feasible to complete the work of the Constitution Reform Commission and to have the Report submitted to the National Assembly by 16 July 1999 as originally contemplated, thereby maintaining the timetable in paragraph 4 (ii) of the Accord, and we commit ourselves to achieving it.
To enable this timetable to be met, the parties have agreed that they will settle as soon as possible, by law in the manner required by the `Herdmanston Accord’, the terms of reference and the naming of the Constitution Reform Commission mindful that CARICOM is resolved to assist them in every way required, but more specifically by arranging for the provision of constitutional experts and facilitators.
The parties have also agreed that the necessary enabling legislation should be enacted in time to allow the Opposition to take their seats in the National Assembly by 15 July 1998. Mr.Hoyte has indicated his intention that, without prejudice to the outcome of the election petition referred to above, the PNC will assume their seats in the National Assembly by that date, and President Jagan has indicated her agreement to secure the enactment of the necessary enabling legislation.
Mrs Jagan has also agreed to make all normal parliamentary arrangements to facilitate the due functioning of parliament as established in a number of parliamentary democracies.
Building on this historic process of the meeting of Guyana’s political leaders with CARICOM Leaders in St. Lucia and the demonstration that through dialogue lies the path to the resolution of Guyana’s problems, the parties have agreed to redouble their efforts for dialogue as provided in paragraphs 3 and 6 of the `Herdmanston Accord’. Further, the two leaders have given CARICOM Heads of Government their assurance that they will themselves meet on a periodic basis to facilitate the achievement of all the processes to which they committed their Parties by the `Herdmanston Accord’.
The two leaders have recognised the value of high level Facilitator acceptable to them whose functions will be developed in conjunction with them. Therefore, they have accepted the offer of CARICOM to provide such a Facilitator who will be appointed as a matter of urgency to further assist in the due implementation of these several agreements.
In the context of the conversations in St. Lucia CARICOM leaders are satisfied that there will be an end to illegal protest on the streets of Guyana as dialogue and parliamentary processes take their rightful and more prominent place in Guyana’s governance. We are strengthened in this by the assurance that the rule of law will be upheld and that as a consequence violence in the political life of the country will cease. None of us wish to stifle dissent in any of our countries; but none of us will accept disorder and threats to life and property as a way of political life.
4. CARICOM remains committed to the peaceful settlement of differences and disputes within our Region and States. These goals are fully supported by both President Jagan and Mr. Hoyte. We are therefore heartened by their assurance that this is the path along which they will work to achieve national unity and cohesiveness for the betterment of Guyana and all its peoples. We are certain that all Guyanese will lend their tangible support to this.
5. We express our genuine appreciation of the statesmanship shown by our colleagues in Guyana in making this historic Agreement possible and once again pledge the commitment of the Caribbean Community to remaining engaged with Guyana in the implementation of the `Herdmanston Accord’ and this Agreement and to be at the disposal of the Parties for this purpose .
MADE THIS 2nd DAY OF JULY 1998, AND ACCEPTED BY:
THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY CHAIRMAN
PEOPLE’S PROGRESSIVE PARTY/CIVIC
PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS