The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has joined the call for the recall of parliament, saying this should be accompanied by consensus agenda and that elections will never solve the nation’s problems.
In putting forward its proposal to end the current impasse between the government and the opposition in light of President Donald Ramotar’s suspension of the Parliament, the GTUC also proposes a mechanism be established for ongoing discussions among the parties, including civil society.
“The GTUC believes that even as Parliament is reconvened discussions on the issues before the National Assembly must continue among the parties,” it said in a statement yesterday, while maintaining elections “have never and will never” solve the country’s problems.
“The people have to solve their problems and fashion a culture for good governance and these require vigilance/activism and holding elected and government officials accountable to laws and regulations established to protect and safeguard the nation and all its people. This is a principal feature present in progressive societies and must be given a chance to work in ours,” it further said, while adding that it has commenced engagement with workers, organisations and citizens on the proposed plan of action.
The GTUC’s proposal came on the heels of similar calls by other civil society organisations. On Thursday, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) suggested the resumption of parliament and a one-month period for meaningful dialogue between the government and the opposition, while other groups, including the Transparency Institute Guyana Inc, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church, and both the Bar Association and the Association of Women Lawyers, called on Ramotar to bring a swift end to the suspension of Parliament or call general elections.
Although Ramotar prorogued the parliament to avert a no-confidence motion against his government, his attempts at initiating dialogue with the parliamentary opposition have been unsuccessful.
The GTUC said the position by the opposition APNU and AFC that there would be no dialogue with the executive unless parliament is returned to normalcy must be respected.
It also dubbed the executive’s position that dialogue be the precondition to reconvene parliament as “a violation of the spirit and intent of the constitution,” but added that it nonetheless ought to be considered in light of accepting that everyone has a right to their opinion and must be given a hearing.
According to the GTUC, Article 9 of the Constitution, which prescribes “Sovereignty belongs to the people, who exercise it through their representatives and the democratic organs established by or under this Constitution” offers a starting point for moving the process forward.
It said Parliament is a vital institution in our democracy and when the doors are shuttered for autocratic reasons, a part of the government is shut down and the people and their representatives are denied their right to involvement and the state has become dysfunctional.
As a result, it reiterated the importance of having the Parliament operational and proposed it be reconvened with an agenda embraced by civil society and elected representatives and inclusive of all issues tabled by the opposition and executive prior to prorogation.
It also proposes the appointment of all constitutional commissions; the enforcement of all decisions taken by the National Assembly; the implementation of outstanding commitments given by the executive prior to prorogation; and the establishment of a mechanism for ongoing discussions among the parties and keeping the public aware of the tenor and content of discussions and decisions.
The GTUC also said the absence of public civility and citizenry holding elected officials accountable are the principal problems that hinder good governance. “The consequences of these have led to run-away corruption, violation of laws and transgression of rights, which are ignored, masked or encouraged by the culture of dominance that has been allowed to reign supreme. Every group or individual, whether in the majority or minority, has an equal stake and share to the nation’s resources and respect and protection under its laws. There must therefore be zero tolerance for any group or individual to think theirs is a right to tyranny, government or dominance,” it further declared.