TOWARDS GREATER INCLUSIVE
GOVERNANCE IN GUYANA
"Building Trust To Achieve Genuine Political Co-operation"
Presented by the PPP/C Government
Pioneering Constitutional Reform
and Good Governance
The People's Progressive Party (PPP) was established in 1950
as a multi-ethnic organization with the aim of winning inde-
pendence and achieving social justice for all the people of British
Guiana. The founders of the PPP were convinced of the need for
such a Party to involve the broad masses for a successful chal-
lenge to colonialism and to improve the quality of life of the people.
The PPP demanded constitutional reform with the objective of ex-
panding rights and improving governance in all its aspects. The PPP
was, therefore, a pioneer in the political campaign for good gover-
The first important victory of the PPP was constitutional
reform allowing for universal adult suffrage for the people of Brit-
ish Guiana and a ministerial system of Government. After the first
general elections held in 1953, which the PPP won by a landslide,
the improved constitution was suspended and the colonial authori-
ties persecuted the PPP leaders.
National unity forged by the PPP was shattered by an engi-
neered division of the Party, which resulted in the formation of the
People's National Congress (PNC).
Despite the division, in all subsequent free and fair elec-
tions, the PPP or the PPP/C won a percentage of votes far larger
than the size of any single ethnic group.
The reason for this consistent success is that the PPP has
unwaveringly promoted national unity even in the most difficult
days of subversion. The late Leader of the PPP and President of
Guyana, Dr. Cheddi Jagan reflects this position in the following
"Regardless of race or ethnic origin, let us consolidate our
forces, win new support and march forward to victory...Racism
is the greatest curse of our land...anyone who spreads racial
propaganda must be severely dealt with. Such a person is an
enemy to himself and his country."
(Dr. Cheddi Jagan, 1965).
"Unity of the working class regardless of race is vital. If we are
to go forward, the party must have the backing not of one race,
but of all races. We must take the offensive. We must combat
racism mercilessly and build a disciplined party..." (Dr. Cheddi
The PPP won the 1957 elections after the colonial authori-
ties reinstated constitutional rule. It again succeeded in securing
constitutional reform in 1961 when it won elections for the sec-
ond consecutive time after the suspension of the constitution. It
assumed office under an advanced constitution which introduced
"self government". The British Government gave the undertaking
that independence would be negotiated before the next general elec-
tions due in 1965. However, the PPP Government was severely
destabilised between 1962 and 1964. The Government was not
allowed to serve out its term because of the imposition of early
elections with a change in the electoral system from first-past-
the-post to proportional representation in order to facilitate the
removal of the PPP.
It was as a result of the rejection of efforts towards politi-
cal unity, increasingly authoritarian rule and elections rigging from
1968 to 1990 that broad unity was sought by the PPP with other
opposition forces. The unity which was generated aided the resto-
ration of democracy in 1992 in which the Carter Centre led by
Nobel Laureate and former US President Jimmy Carter and other
international organizations, including the Commonwealth, played
a major role. As a result, the PPP/Civic won the elections and as-
The historical record is unchallengeable: Since the division
in 1955, the PPP made continuous efforts to arrive at arrange-
ments with the PNC to maintain and ensure the unity of the
Guyanese people. These efforts were particularly intense during
the periods 1961 to 1964, 1976 to 1978 and 1984 to 1985. The
PNC rejected these efforts categorically describing them at one
time as only "superficially attractive."
The struggle for good governance
D during the years of authoritarian rule the PPP on its own or in
unity with other opposition groups, parties and members of
civil society, resisted all efforts to destroy democratic and consti-
tutional rule in Guyana.
Among the issues which the PPP campaigned against were:
Elections rigging between 1968 and 1990;
Abolition of appeals to the Privy Council on consti-
Politicisation of the Judiciary and Security Forces
Political and ethnic discrimination
Abolition of Press Freedom
Subversion of independent institutions.
Corruption and poor accountability.
Party paramountcy over the institutions and organs
of the State
The 1978 rigged referendum and the 1980 imposed
During this period the PPP continually sought unity and
explored proposals to generate ethnic security and a restoration
The commitment to democracy, constitu-
tional reform and inclusive governance
As a result of the PPP's commitment to democracy it em
braced constitutional reform and inclusive and participatory
governance as part of its platform for the 1992 general and re-
gional elections. This resulted in the formation of the PPP/Civic
alliance to contest those elections.
Upon its accession to office in October 1992, the PPP/
Civic Government inherited one of the poorest and most heavily
indebted countries in the hemisphere with, inter alia:
Over 90 percent of revenue being used to service ex-
Over 60 percent of the population living below the
Severe macro-economic imbalances including a fiscal
deficit of 25 percent of GDP and a balance of payments
deficit of 47 percent of GDP;
High interest rates;
Dilapidated physical and social infrastructure;
Lack of public accountability; and
Mass migration leading to a severe "brain drain"
Today, the debt servicing is less than 40 percent of revenue, the
population below the poverty line has been reduced by half, the
balance of payments and fiscal deficits are below 10 percent of
GDP, interest rates have been cut in half and for the last eight
years inflation is in single digits. The physical and social infra-
structure has been significantly rehabilitated. In addition, the Gov-
ernment has made significant progress in advancing good gover-
nance and financial accountability through the introduction of the
Return of and respect for democratic norms;
Independent functioning of State institutions;
Expansion of press freedom;
Participation of the Opposition on state boards;
Amendment of the Standing Orders of the National
Assembly to allow for Standing Committees;
Reintroduction of financial accountability espe-
cially through the submission of annual reports of
the public accounts by the Auditor General;
Reform of the tendering process;
Appointment of the Integrity Commission;
Introduction of legislation to prevent discrimination
and marginalisation at the work place;
Fair and transparent financial and resource alloca-
tion to regions, sectors and communities.
The PPP/C Government's attempts to establish a Race Re-
lations Commission failed due to the lack of opposition support.
The achievements set out above are not exhaustive but a
mere indication of the substantial work done by the PPP/C Gov-
ernment to restore good governance and participatory democracy
Constitutional reform commenced during the Cheddi Jagan
Government by the appointment of a Select Committee on which
the Opposition was represented. The Select Committee travelled
to many parts of the country and compiled several volumes of evi-
dence. However, it was unable to conclude its report and make its
recommendations because Parliament was dissolved and elections
called for December, 1997.
Constitutional Reform and Inclusive Gover-
In 1997, the PPP/C won the elections, which were certified as
free and fair by international observers. Once again sustained
destablisation activities created instability, threatened social peace
and obstructed the functioning of government offices. In order to
ensure that the situation did not spin out of control, the PPP/C
agreed to major compromises in the Herdmanston Accord. The
Government's term of office was reduced by two years, it agreed
to an audit of the elections and undertook to continue the process
of constitutional reform.
The Audit concluded that the elections were free and fair.
A Constitutional Reform Commission was established and
the PPP/C agreed to substantial reforms that advance the process
of inclusive governance.
The Constitution was amended to provide for:
(a) Reducing the powers of the President;
(b) An Opposition veto on the appointment of the Chan-
cellor and Chief Justice;
(c) Expanding the functions of the Judicial Service Com-
(d) Strengthening the financial independence of the Ju-
(e) Institutionalising participation by social groups in
the decision making process;
(f) Expanding human rights;
(g) Involving the National Assembly in the appointment
of Service Commissions (Public, Police, Judicial
(h) Modifying the electoral system for national and lo-
cal government elections;
(i) Establishing of five Standing Committees to exam-
ine and review government policy in the social, eco-
nomic, foreign policy and natural resources sectors;
(j) A Parliamentary Management Committee;
(k) A Human Rights Commission;
(1) An Ethnic Relations Commission;
(m) A Procurement Commission;
(n) A Standing Committee on Constitutional Reform;
(o) A Commission to review the functioning and com-
position of the security forces; and
(p) Commissions on the Rights of the Child, Gender
Rights and Indigenous Peoples.
These and other reforms make the Guyana Constitution the
most advanced in terms of inclusiveness and Opposition involve-
ment in governance in the Caribbean region and certainly one of
the most advanced in the world.
The Human Rights, Ethnic Relations and Procurement Com-
missions established in a bi-partisan way together can address al-
legations of police excesses, ethnic discrimination and corrup-
tion, which are some of the main unsubstantiated accusations which
the Opposition has levelled against the Government. However, these
and the other reforms now provided for by the Constitution to deal
with these issues have not been given effect to because of the cur-
rent boycott of Parliament by the Opposition.
In addition to the above, the constitutional standing com-
mittees of Parliament and the Parliamentary Management Com-
mittee have not been established nor have the commissions on
social groups, which include commissions on Rights of the Child,
Gender Rights and Indigenous People.
The PPP/C once again won the 2001 general elections un-
der a modified electoral system. These elections were certified as
free and fair by international observers, including the Carter Cen-
tre, the Commonwealth, the OAS, the European Union and
CARICOM. Immediately after the conclusion of the elections, the
PNCR opposition organized extensive protest demonstrations.
Consistent with the PPP and the Government's position on
dialogue, as stated by President Bharrat Jagdeo below, an invita-
tion was issued to the late Mr. Desmond Hoyte, then Leader of the
PNC/R to dialogue.
"I extend a hand of friendship to those who are in opposition
and invite them to sit with us and iron out differences so that
we can have a common cause to serve a cause in service
to our people and nation". (President Jagdeo, August 11,
"It is critical that we engage one anotherin dialogue. We should
always reach out and talk to each other In this way, we would
be fulfilling the mandate of all Guyanese as we share our dif-
fering views in the search for national consensus on the com-
mon objective of making this country a better place for all".
(President Jagdeo, March 31, 2001)
Arising from the agreements, the following bi-partisan com-
mittees were established:
Local government reform;
Border and national security;
Distribution of land and houselots;
Resuscitation of the bauxite industry;
Depressed communities' needs; and
Radio monopoly and non-partisan boards
The achievements of the dialogue included:
a) Depressed Communities Needs Committee: Four areas were
identified by the Committee: Non Pariel/Enterprise, Buxton, De
Kinderen and Meten-eer-Zorg. The Government had set aside
$60M to do work in these areas. The agreed development work has
been carried out in all of the four communities.
b) The Report of Border and National Security Committee:
The committee met on a number of occasions and produced a re-
port. President Jagdeo and Mr. Hoyte met with members of the
committee and agreed that the report will be tabled in the National
Assembly for the consideration of the Sectoral Committee on
Foreign Affairs when it is formed.
c) National Policy on Distribution of Land and House lots:
Both President Jagdeo and Mr. Hoyte rejected the report of the
Committee on the distribution of land and house lots. It was agreed
that the Government would table a white paper on land distribution
and the criteria for selection by the end of February 2002. How-
ever Parliament did not meet until March 15th, 2002. The White
Paper was tabled.
d) The Bauxite Industry Resuscitation Committee: On Febru-
ary 19, 2002, President Jagdeo and Mr. Hoyte met with the mem-
bers of the Bauxite Resuscitation Committee. It was agreed that it
would focus on the LINMINE privatization issue. A negotiating
team comprising representatives from the Government and the
Opposition would be set up to engage OMAI/Cambior for the
privatization of LINMINE. On February 19t, 2002, Mr. Hoyte was
asked to submit his representative, which he subsequently did. This
has resulted in a MOU between the Government of Guyana and
e) The Report of the Radio Monopoly and Non-partisan Me-
dia Boards: The report was presented to President Jagdeo and
Mr. Hoyte. It was noted that no agreement was reached on the
issue of the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) at
the committee level. On February 18th, 2002, Mr. Hoyte sug-
gested to President Jagdeo that the Government of Guyana pro-
ceed he proceeds with the drafting of necessary legislation
pending agreement on the issue of the NFMU. By February
19th, 2002, President Jagdeo had informed Mr. Hoyte that the
report was sent to the Attorney General Chambers so that the
drafting process could start. It would be useful to note that on
November 7th, 2001, President Jagdeo and Mr. Hoyte signed a
Memorandum of Understanding, which cleared the way for the
passage of the amendment to the Wireless Telegraphy Regula-
tions (which was agreed to by the joint committee) and the es-
tablishment of an interim Advisory Committee on Broadcast-
ing with respect to compliance by television stations licens-
f) Local Government Reform Committee: The Joint Task
force on Local Government Reform has made tremen-
dous progress up to the time its mandate expired on May
18th, 2002. The Committee has made a request for an
extension of the mandate by three months, so that it could
wind up its work.
Other progress made by the dialogue included:
1. PNC/R Membership on State Boards, Commis-
sion and Committees: Mr. Hoyte had raised the
issue of PNC/R participation on boards. As a result,
PNC/R nominees were named to serve on over 50
state boards, commissions and committees.
2. Creation of post of Head of the Public Service:
President Jagdeo and Mr. Hoyte agreed "to create a
position of a formal Head of the Public Service sepa-
rate and distinct from the political post of Head of
the Presidential Secretariat."
3. Parliamentary Management Committee and
Sectoral Committees: At the February 18 and 19th,
2002 dialogue meetings, the President, once again,
suggested to Mr. Hoyte that since their representa-
tives (Messrs Persaud and Carberry) were unable to
reach agreement on the issue, they should discuss
this outstanding matter at their level. Mr. Hoyte, in
response, suggested that the matter should be dealt
with at a subsequent meeting.
On March 14, 2002, the PNCR surprisingly, put the dialogue on
pause despite the above achievements alleging that agreements
were not fulfilled.
Post-independence politics in Guyana has been charac
terized by a lack of trust between the two main political
parties despite the determined efforts of the PPP and the
Recently, executive power sharing has been proposed as a so-
lution to Guyana's problems. Quite apart from the negative
consequences associated with executive power sharing such
as the institutionalisation of ethnic rivalry and the absence of
political opposition, no contrived system of governance will
succeed in a situation where trust and good faith do not exist
between the political parties.
The PPP/C believes that a conscious effort is required by the
major political parties to build trust and establish confidence.
Without such trust, suspicion will continue, motives will be
questioned, policies will be judged on distorted criteria, re-
source allocation will always be followed by allegations of
partisanship and agreements will be difficult to be arrived
at. It is not even possible at this time to sign a crime
communique as proposed by the Social Partners.
The PPP/C proposes the implementation of all the constitu-
tional reforms as an immediate measure to building trust and
to further enhance inclusive governance. In this regard, the
parties will be required to collaborate on:
the appointment of the Rights Commissions;
the appointment of the Parliamentary Management
the appointment of the Service Commissions; and
the appointment of the Standing Committees.
The establishment of these and other bodies provided for in
the Constitution and their optional functioning will gener-
ate confidence and increasing co-operation and good-will.
The PPP/C will expand on these efforts by encourag-
ing broader co-operation by all forces in the society involved
in public affairs but particularly the political parties.
These collaborative efforts would include:
(a) establishing means and facilities to enhance the
work of Members of Parliament
and strengthening their ability to present their
views in legislative matters and to represent
(b) improving the discourse between Government
and Opposition through the appointment of
Shadow Cabinet Ministers who can represent
their views on policy to the Government and be
apprised of policy developments by the Govern-
(c) improving ties between the political parties
through discussions and debates which will also
contribute to building confidence.
(d) devising additional ways and means of working
closer together in a non-partisan way at the lo-
cal government level where national political
controversies generate less divisions and where
development and implementation issues give
rise to the possibility of greater co-operation
in the short term.
These measures which are vital for our political de-
velopment and the emergence of a new political culture char-
acterized by greater trust, civility and commitment to the
The PPP/C is encouraged by recent pronouncements
by the main opposition party which indicate a commitment
for constructive engagement. We hope that these engagements
will result in the acceptance of these and other proposals to
solve national issues, to build trust and to improve relations
between our political parties.
In an environment created by deepening trust and
confidence, further arrangements for inclusive gover-
nance can result after consultation with our constitu-
ents and the electorate.
February 8, 2003