GUYANA: THE SAINT
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Friday July 3, 1998
1. In signing the "Herdmanston Accord" on 17 January 1998, the Leaders of Guyana's two main political Parties stated that they were 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 Saint Lucia Summit, on 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 conversation with President Jagan and Mr Hoyte have convinced us all of the necessity to return to 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,
(a) All parties to the 'Herdmanston Accord' reaffirm their commitment to the Accord, and to the implementation of its provisions as initially contemplated
(b) Both stages of the Electorate Audit as provided for in paragraph 1 of the 'Herdmanston Accord' have been presented to the 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 election petitions which have been filed in the courts by both parties.
(c) 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.
(d) Mindful that among the matters to be addressed by the Constitution 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.
(e) We 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.
(f) 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 o constitutional experts and facilitators.
(g) 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 petitions referred to above, the PNC will assume their seats in the National Assembly by the date, and President Jagan has indicated her agreement to secure the enactment of the necessary enabling legislation.
(h) Mrs Jagan has also agreed to make all normal parliamentary arrangements to facilitate the due functioning of the Opposition in the National Assembly, including exploring in consultation with all Parties in the Assembly the establishment of a Parliamentary Management Committee for the better organisation and functioning of parliament as established in a number of parliamentary democracies.
(i) Building on this historic process of the meeting of Guyanas political leaders with CARICOM Leaders in Saint Lucia and the demonstration that through dialogue lies the path to the resolution of Guyanas 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".
(j) 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.
3. In the context of the conversation in Saint Lucia CARICOM leaders are satisfied that there will b an end to illegal protest on the streets of Guyana as dialogue and parliamentary processes take their rightful and more prominent place in Guyanas 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
PEOPLES PROGRESSIVE PARTY/CIVIC
PEOPLES NATIONAL CONGRESS
CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY MISSION TO GUYANA
Signed in Guyana, 17th January 1998
Measures for Resolving Current Problems
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 team 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 17th 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 Constitutional 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 inflammatory effect in the 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
PEOPLE'S PROGRESSIVE PARTY/CIVIC
PEOPLE'S NATIONAL CONGRESS
On behalf of the Chairman of the