MEDIATION BY GHANA AND TRINIDAD IN 1964
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Despite the political setback brought about by the British-imposed decision at the November 1963 constitutional conference, Dr. Jagan continued his efforts to find a political solution in Guyana. Shortly after the conference concluded, he wrote to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, President of Ghana, urging him to mediate a settlement between the PPP and the PNC. Dr. Nkrumah immediately responded by sending a mission headed by one of his close advisers, Professor W.E. Abraham. This mission arrived on the 9 February 1964, but sections of the opposition press immediately launched an attack on it and also on the Ghana Government. While in public the PNC welcomed the mission, in private it opposed the visit and failed to criticise the UF which organised hooligan elements to disrupt its work.
At the meetings with the mission, the PPP made many concessions. It agreed to parity on the Council of Ministers, a single chamber legislature, the Surinam mixed system of voting (a combination of proportional representation and constituency voting), and the voting age to remain at 21. The PNC demanded the Home Affairs Ministry but the PPP could not agree to this. Abraham suggested a compromise that the PNC should have the Ministry of Home Affairs with a junior PPP Minister and the PPP should have the Ministry of Defence with a junior PNC Minister. The PPP agreed to this compromise but the PNC refused and so the talks reached a deadlock.
The Ghana mission decided to leave on the 19 February, with Abraham hoping that the talks between the two parties would continue afterwards in an effort to break the impasse. On the evening before the mission's departure, Dr. Jagan asked Abraham to make a final effort to bring about a settlement since it was felt that the PNC would pull out of the talks as soon as the mission departed. He suggested that Abraham should find out from Burnham whether he would agree to the mission's compromise proposals on the Defence and Home Affairs Ministries. On the next morning Dr. Jagan telephoned Abraham at the airport and he was told that Burnham did not agree. Abraham urged Dr. Jagan to concede the Ministry of Home Affairs; to this Dr. Jagan agreed provisionally on the condition that the PNC should agree that a party which failed to obtain 12 percent of the votes at the general election should not be allocated seats.
Abraham immediately contacted Burnham by telephone about these matters and then told Dr. Jagan that the PNC leader had agreed. Abraham wanted to know whether he could make an announcement at the airport about this agreement, but Dr. Jagan told him that this could be done after his meeting with Burnham. This was a mistake because Burnham used the departure of the mission to place obstacles in the efforts to make a settlement. When Dr. Jagan and Burnham finally met nearly two weeks later after many postponements requested by the latter, Dr. Jagan began to summarise points of agreement for a settlement. Immediately, Burnham interrupted and said that Abraham had misunderstood him. He said he had not indicated to Abraham that he had agreed with the 12 percent exclusionary figure. It turned out also the PNC delegation was now no longer in favour of the mixed Suriname system of voting, which that party had constantly promoted, but the German system of proportional representation. The talks thus collapsed.
A month later, in the background of racial clashes in 1964 when the new Governor, Sir Richard Luyt, was given dictatorial powers (and with many constitutional powers taken away from the PPP Government), the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Eric Williams, invited Dr. Jagan to meet with him in Trinidad. At the meeting Dr. Jagan agreed to the mediation of Dr. Williams and briefed him on the possible areas of agreement for a settlement. Burnham and D'Aguiar (the UF leader) were then invited to Trinidad but they were very uncooperative. D'Aguiar felt that "the only alternative to Dr. Jagan was partition". And Burnham, speaking to university students at the UWI campus, declared that he did not think that Dr. Williams could help bring about any settlement.
Unfortunately, Dr. Williams refused to provide Dr. Jagan with the views of the PNC, UF and the TUC leaders with whom he also met separately.
(He was to publish them in detail after the discussions broke down). Dr. Williams himself was annoyed that Dr. Jagan did not return to Trinidad to meet with him on a second occasion, even though the Guyanese Premier explained that the deteriorating situation in Guyana did not make it possible for him to leave the country. He suggested instead a visit by the Attorney General, Dr. Fenton Ramsahoye, to find out the view points of the PNC and UF to determine whether there was any possibility of a settlement, but Dr. Williams did not agree. Dr. Jagan then suggested that Dr. Williams could brief his country's representative in Guyana to bring him up to date, but the Trinidad Prime Minister also refused to accept this proposal.
The situation had now reached an impasse. Finally, towards the end of May 1964, Dr. Williams issued a statement in which he blamed the Guyanese leaders, including Dr. Jagan, for being uncooperative and irresponsible.