Broadcast Statement by the Minister of~ Information Mr. Martin Carter on Friday, August 1st, 1969.
"OLUR BECOMING A REPUBLIC IS AN
IMPORTANT STEP IN OUR QUEST FOR
NATIONAL UNITY AND IN OUR DRIVE
FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOP-
On February 23 next year Guyana will become a
Republic. On that day the Queen of England will
cease to be Queen of Guyana. The new Head of
State will be a President elected by the National
Assembly. This change is in accordance with Article
73 of our Constitution which makes provision for
Guyana to become a Republic and accordingly cease to
be part of Her Majesty's Dominions.
It is of course most important that we all under-
stand in full the meaning of this change.
The Presidency will not be a political office. The
President of the Republic will be the Head of State and
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, as the
Governor-General is at present. The political and
executive power will remain with the Cabinet headed
by the Prime Minister.
The President will exercise the executive authority
placed in him on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Just as the Governor-General is now, the President
will be a constitutional Head of State acting on the
advice of his Ministers.
The President will be elected for six years by the
National Assembly in secret ballot and the Constitution
provides that he must be a Guyanese and must be over
the age of 40. The President's appointment does not
change with Governments when a general election
takes place. What this means is that Guyana will
become a Constitutional Republic, with a system of
Parliamentary democracy continuing, such as in India.
As a Republic, Guyana's status as a Commonwealth
nation remains the same. As a Republic, Guyana's
political system remains unchanged.
SIMILARITY TO INDIA
The Republican system which is provided for in
our Constitution is, in fact, virtually identical with that
of India's and we should join India on February 23 next
year as the only other Commonwealth Republic with a
Constitutional as distinct from an Executive Presidency.
MANDATE FOR REPUBLIC
Guyana became independent after the general
election which put the coalition Government into
office and at that time adopted the present Constitution
which provides for our becoming a Republic. From
that time, and even before, the People's National
Congress expressed quite clearly the intention that we
should become a Republic. At the last election the
Government received its mandate from the people to
pursue this logical step.
WILL NOT BE A
.... THE POLITICAL
POWER WILL RE-
MAIN WITH THE
BY THE PRIME MIN-
It is difficult to understand those who would still
prefer that we remain a Monarchy and who look with
pleasure and deference upon the British throne and look
askance at the idea of a President and Head of State
chosen from among us and elected by our own
The British Crown is the symbolic head of Great
Britain and it is from that country that we have
struggled so long for our independence.
It may be that some very few among us still accord to
the British Crown a position of high idealism. But I
cannot recall the British Crown successfully raising
its voice in a public forum in protest against British
colonialism imposed upon millions of us across the
world, who now struggle to make our way as inde-
The fact that the British Crown today does not con-
trol the political decisions of the British Govern-
ment hardly seems an argument in favour of our
retaining allegiance to it, however symbolic that
allegiance may be.
Let us not forget also that it was the Crown, sym-
bolised by successive British governors who ruled
Guyana in the past, which made the decisions that have
left us with the problems and the divisions that we
now seek to mend and to heal.
SYSTEM WHICH IS
PROVIDED FOR IN
TION IS, IN FACT,
TICAL WITH THAT
OF INDIA'S ..."
" -, t_; t2
SYMBOL OF NATIONAL UNITY
In Guyana we are a people who must find a common
ground to build a joint future; our Head of State
must be the personification of that common ground,
he must be the symbol of national unity and for that
very reason must be thrown up from within us. Our
becoming a Republic is an important step in our quest
for national unity and in our drive for economic and
social development. For the changes we make in
our institutions must at all times be directed to the
objective of making life better worth living for us all.
And, speaking at a rally of youths a few weeks ago,
the Prime Minister laid special emphasis upon this
aspect of our coming accession to Republican status.
After pointing out that our past has been one in which
the majority of the people have been kept out of the
main stream of social and economic power, the Prime
Minister said that in order for the ordinary man to
gain economic power and control, Guyana will have
to become a Co-operative Republic, that is to say, a
Republic in which the co-operative movement will
serve as the instrument in the work of bringing about
a qualitative change in our economic and social
"OUR HEAD OF
STATE. ... MUST BE
THE SYMBOL OF
AND FOR THAT
MUST BE THROWN
UP FROM WITHIN
It has been said over and again but I think it is useful
once again to repeat that the future of Guyana is in the
hands of Guyanese living and yet unborn. The
success of the efforts of our generation and future
generations will depend upon how profoundly we
understand the forces at work among us, and how
well we marshall our energies and intelligence to
smash those forces that weaken and to nourish those
forces that strengthen. Already more and more of us
are coming to realise that in order to achieve real change
we have to make sure that the institutions through
which we work must be properly structured to deal
effectively with the form and content of Guyanese
experience. This means that existing institutions
must be overhauled. And, as for the new ones we shall
find necessary to set up as time goes on-slavish copying
would be disastrous. Of course we must learn from
others-this is how civilisation developed. But we
must adapt what we learn to our own purposes. This
is how free men behave.
On February 23, 1970, two hundred and seven
years after the first serious attempt to make a qualitative
change in the then existing economic and social re-
lationships, we shall become a Republic. Let us from
"...IN ORDER TO
CHANGE WE HAVE
TO MAKE SURE
THAT THE IN-
WE WORK MUST BE
TURED TO DEAl
THE FORM ANE
CONTENT OF GUY.
ANESE E X P E R.
"LET US .... WORK AS WE HAVE NEVER
WORKED BEFORE TO LIBERATE OUR-
SELVES FROM OUR INHERITED ECO-
NOMIC, SOCIAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL
now take inspiration from the courage and imagination
of the leaders of that first attempt and work as we have
never worked before to liberate ourselves from our
inherited economic, social and psychological bondage.
Let us remember Coffy, who in those dark days lit
the torch which it is our duty to make burn brighter.
For Coffy and his comrades fought and died in the
effort to become free men. We must weave what we
know of them into the very fabric of our emotional
life so that today and tomorrow we continue to fight
for dignity and in so doing discharge our duty to the
heroes of the past and the heroes yet to be.
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