The Parliamentary Opposition is maintaining that it will not participate in any forum that is used by the Government, despite foreign support, to give credence to a social cohesion policy and strategy while the nation continues to be ripped apart by the undemocratic APNU+AFC Coalition government.
The Opposition was invited to the Social Cohesion Strategic Plan 2017-2020 Validation Workshop which was held on Thursday at the Marriott Hotel, however, it was a “no show.”
In a letter dispatched to the UN Resident Coordinator Mikiko Tanaka, the Opposition says after 22 months of listening to and observing the statements and actions of the APNU+AFC Coalition government’s much touted “social cohesion policy”, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), “cannot and will not be a part of such events that will validate the government’s discriminatory actions under the guise of a Social Cohesion Policy or Strategy.”
The Opposition is contending that it has brought matters to the National Assembly of national importance and each one has been “shot down” by the Government, which holds a one-seat majority.
“We have advocated and proposed initiatives to solve the many challenges the country faces and to build greater inclusivity, transparency and accountability in the legislature and other forums. However, the Government has rejected each and every one at every single forum available to it.”
The contents of the Draft Social Cohesion Strategy have been noted by the PPP, which has concluded that it excludes the key foundations of social cohesion – adherence to the constitutional provisions and human rights; equal access to goods and services provided by the state; equal opportunity to jobs, contracts, education, health, housing; independence of the judiciary; adherence to parliamentary democracy in the Legislature; an open and enabling environment that allows for difference of views and an attitude of compromise; and, inclusion and representation in the body politic based on the multi-cultural multi-ethnic multi-religious composition of Guyanese society.
Without these essential ingredients for trust and confidence building being recognised and upheld by the government, social cohesion is merely at best an academic veneer to legitimize the government’s discriminatory and undemocratic governance of the nation.
It notes that it has exposed the vindictive and undemocratic nature of the Government, some of these listed by the Opposition include:
-its termination of 1,972 Amerindian Community Service Officers and hundreds of public servants on the basis of their ethnicity and political affiliation;
-its reckless and callous treatment of the sugar and rice sectors which will not only impact grievously on 17,000 sugar workers and thousands of rice farmers and their families but the consequences will be irretrievable to the economy and the entire nation for decades to come;
-its consistent exclusion in any consultation process, of major national stakeholders and the inclusion of the “handpicked few” who pass their “political correctness” test; and,
-its intimidation and interference in the judiciary, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Judicial Service Commission, and the non-appointment of judges in violation of the constitution;
– its interference in the Public Service Commission and the Ethnic Relations Commission;
-its political interference in seven (7) of the ten (10) Regional Democratic Councils won by the PPPC in the 2015 general and regional elections, and the forty-eight (48) of the seventy-one (71) Local Authority Areas also won by the PPPC in the March 2016 Local Government Elections
– its exclusion of ethnic groups in the appointment of government and state Boards, even on the Local Boards of Guardians which are region based;
-its use of the Special Organized Crime Unit ( created to fight money laundering), an arm of the Guyana Police Force, and, the administrative State Assets Recovery Unit, located in the Ministry of the Presidency, to “witch-hunt” political opponents.
PPP says these actions by the APNU+AFC Government do not in any way demonstrate a genuine desire and a political will to implement a social cohesion policy or to create a socially cohesive nation.
During Thursday’s Validation Workshop, Social Cohesion Minister, Dr. George Norton described the Opposition’s non-participation as “unfortunate” and called on it to come on board to assist the Government with its social cohesion efforts.