“No need to push panic button”

– PM Nagamootoo assures citizen in weekly column

– situation can be looked at from broader perspective

DPI, Guyana, Sunday, January 13, 2018

In his weekly column “My Turn”, in the Guyana Chronicle, Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo said “there is no need to push the panic button” during this testing situation.

Prime Minister Nagamootoo was referring to the recent disclosures of investigations which have been launched into the “massive vote-buying fraud and breach of national security by foreign agents,” following the December 21, 2018 vote.

He said while diplomatic probes and police investigations may seem like a “television-like sequel,” the situation can be looked at from a broader perspective.

“The better position could be one that looks not at troubles, but how we can turn the tides and grasp prospects ahead for national unity,” the Prime Minister wrote.

He noted that while there are publications of pro-opposition letters, which “aims at promoting confusion or even fear of troubles ahead,” in sections of the media, the Leader of the Opposition is in “100 per cent” agreement that the government remains in office, pending the outcomes of “constitutional and other critical issues.”

While appearing on the National Communications Network (NCN) programme “Context” last week, alongside Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Prime Minister Nagamootoo described the bilateral meeting between President David Granger and Opposition Leader, Bharat Jagdeo as “a very fruitful, constructive meeting” with a “display of marvellous maturity, calm and equanimity by the leaders in dealing with a situation that holds such grave implications for Guyana.”

He also noted that the meeting saw both sides committing to the national interest and constitution of Guyana.

The Prime Minister’s entire article can be viewed below.

Anara Khan

Image: Department of Public Information

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Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo | MY TURN

TROUBLES, OR TURNING TIDES?

EVEN after the crucial Government-Opposition meeting, I still saw yesterday a splurge of pro-opposition letters in sections of the media that aims at promoting confusion, or even fear of troubles ahead.

Disclosures that investigations have been launched into a massive vote-buying fraud, and breach of national security by foreign agents, obviously are creating disquiet in some corners.

But, even in this testing situation, there is no need to push the panic button. An Opposition back-biter did just that. With neither the gall nor gill to renounce his foreign (Dominican?) citizenship, he has called on “patriotic” ministers to resign, though his own leader has quite rightly accepted “100%” that the government remains in place pending outcomes of constitutional and other critical issues.

FOLLOW THE GOLD

I would add, diplomatic probes and police investigations, even extra-territorially, in what seems to be a television-like sequel titled, “follow the gold”.

The better position could be one that looks not at troubles, but how we can turn the tides and grasp prospects ahead for national unity. In this context, a letter by a former prime minister about a national front government is more on point.

Following my column last week when I wrote “What did the Speaker say?”, I was asked to write my assessment of the talks between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, and their respective teams. I have decided, therefore, to share excerpts from my interview with Enrico Woolford on his NCN programme, CONTEXT, which was aired on January 9 – hours after the talks concluded. (Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, shared the programme with me.)

FRUITFUL, CONSTRUCTIVE MEETING

“I can tell you this: it has been a very fruitful, constructive meeting…I have seen (and you don’t see this very often, but I’ve been around long enough), the display of marvellous maturity, calm and equanimity by the leaders in dealing with a situation that holds so grave implications for Guyana.

“I believe that what has come out today is an affirmation by the national leaders that irrespective of what happens in this country, politically, they are both committed with their parties to the protection of the sovereignty of our country, to the protection of our territorial integrity so that no one, no country, could look at what is happening in Guyana, at the moment or since December 21st, and use that as an opportunity to weaken our country or threaten our sovereignty.

“So, putting aside everything else, I can say that today was a triumph of a commitment to patriotism and national values; and so I would rate the bilateral meeting as very successful in this context.”

MEETING OF PEACEMAKERS

“Some might have said that today would have been a meeting between the warlords. That did not happen. More or less, it was the opposite. It was a meeting of the peacemakers of two sides even though they have their own priorities and their issues. Some of these may be very controversial issues but they (the leaders) are committed to the National Interest.

“The Leader of the Opposition said he came with an open mind. The President of Guyana, President David Granger, mentioned that we have our challenges and some difficult moments, but we must look at the opportunities which are presented to us as an open door to enter into discussions and dialogue.

“In the end, the Communique will say that we (both sides) are committed to the Constitution of this country, which is supreme law; that nothing should be done to undermine the Constitution, nothing should be done to interfere with the stability of Guyana, to the peace and the order of our country. Nothing should be done to interrupt the delivery of services to our people, whether those services are regular or emergency services, they will continue.

“And what came out of the meeting is that the two parties are going to commit themselves to jointly pursue certain matters like to go to the Elections Commission to find out what will be the Election Commission’s priorities and programmes.”

PARLIAMENT MUST CONTINUE

“They would explore that. But in the meantime, I think there is a recognition that the Parliament must continue; and inside Parliament, there would be potential for the parties to work together to deal with time-frames in which things can be done.

“I had said, at the time when the vote was taken on the no-confidence motion that the Opposition has to consider that it has now bought itself a seat at the table and that table has to be the table of negotiation, the table of dialogue, the table of mutual cooperation for the good of Guyana.

“We are facing a future for our country that was undreamt of just a few years ago. It could change every single thing about our country, the way our economy develops, the way our society progresses, the future for our children and our grandchildren, and certainly the role of political parties within that new framework. So, you are not now dealing with parties looking at power, per se. You are looking at the dynamics that we may have to work together.

“During the meeting, they state their positions; each side states its position. The Opposition would have said, for instance, that the government should resign. The government position is that you cannot create a vacuum; you don’t have a situation where the government should resign. Then they dealt with the Constitutional matters…”

CANNOT DICTATE TO JUDICIARY

“The Judiciary has now been engaged in an exercise. You cannot dictate to the judiciary or give it orders. The Judiciary may take what you call judicial notice of what the parties are doing and that by itself will tell the Judiciary that there are issues that must be dealt with in an expeditious way. But we should not interfere; we should not stop the judiciary. Or do what people suggested, to oust the jurisdiction of the court.

“…What seems to happen today is that both the government and the Opposition accept that there is a government in place. There’s the President, there’s the Prime Minister, there is a Cabinet… So, I want that the rhetoric should be toned down. This rush to judgement that the government must resign, ministers must resign, is not helpful at this time.”

NEW GOVERNANCE

“So, I saw from today’s meeting that there was calm and there was perspective. On the other side, there was not a condescending or an accommodating feature, but the government dealing with the issue in a very flexible way. It was not dogmatic on any issue. The President exercised skill and statesmanship, and leadership.

“When you would have seen the Communiqué, you will see a reflection on both sides of statesmanship and leadership and that is good for Guyana. And, I can say down the line, if it continues in this way, it’s going to open other doors and we will see some of the things we have been dreaming about for decades that may not have been possible in our country. We may see a new Guyana emerging – a new governance…. I believe that today’s meeting would be part of the landmark development for our new politics and our new governance in Guyana”.

Sunday, January 13, 2019.

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