THE United States government has stopped short of openly censuring the electoral track record of Presi-dent Desmond Hoyte’s ruling PNC but Washington says its goal here is free and fair flections.
The Americans are also linking the success of Mr. Hoyte’s economic recovery plans with democracy here and believe this would impact on the free and fair elections drive.
Wrapping up a short visit on elections and other issues with Mr. Hoyte, opposition and other groups, senior State Department official Sally Cowal Monday announced she feels government intends to hold a free and fair election. “I have every indication that they are very interested in having an open and free election,” she told reporters before leaving Georgetown.
Cowal, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, added, “we are interested in having an open free and fair election and we will certainly be working towards that end in the months to come.”
She did not say how Washington intends to work for free and fair elections here but hinted at economic pressures. “We have certainly indicated to the government that we expect that its economic recovery will be successful when implemented within a process which is democratic. We will continue to say that; we believe that will have an effect. I won’t speculate on what measures we might take any time in the future.”
Asked whether the US will pressure Mr. Hoyte into electoral reforms to ensure a free and fair poll, Cowal suggested it was up to Guyanese to decide on their election process. “We would certainly want to encourage the government to adhere to the standards of free and fair elections as we have seen them in other parts of the world that’s a Guyanese decision.”
Cowal oversees US policy and relations with Mexico and the Caribbean and regional economic affairs and is the highest level State Department official to come here in recent years. She stressed Washington’s comfort with Mr Hoyte’s free enterprise fashioned economic recovery policies but treaded carefully at the press conference while in electoral waters.
“We believe very strongly the Economic Recovery Programme of the government is designed to bring Guyana back to where it deserves to be a country in which citizens enjoy a decent standard of living; we are willing to help make that come about.’
Asked, however, if the US saw a similar problem with free and fair elections here as it did in Nicaragua, Panama and elsewhere in the region, Cowal said, “I would not characterise it as a problem. I would characterise it as a goal. Yes, the US has the same goal here free and fair elections.”
She acknowledged observers have been important to certify electoral processes in other countries but said the US could not insist the Guyana Government allow observers.
Cowal was also not forthcoming when asked if the US would insist on free and fair elections here, given claims by opposition and other groups of rigged polls since 1968. “I think I can assure you that our discussions with this government and any other government in the world are also free and fair and they are also frank (and) indicate what we are in favour of and what we stand for, I think every country is a different country and I think it would be silly and unfair of any of us to try to say that Guyana was any place else in the world. All countries differ and we are part of an on going process.”
She also did not agree Washington is applying double standards on elections here and in other countries.
Cowal contended that by issuing human rights and other reports, the US Government has made it clear “where we think that standard has not been achieved.”
“We will continue to speak out that frankly,” she said, adding, “at the same time I believe that this government does want to have free elections and we will be expecting them to do that.”
Managerial Incompetence Reason For Our Plight – Harding
“MANAGERIAL incompetence and neglect by those who lead” have been blamed for the state of affairs is which the city of Georgetown and the country as a whole now find themselves. The economic depression is also playing a part.
This point was made by Dr. Faith Harding whose responsibility is the Public Service Ministry, when she delivered the main address at a public meeting on Sunday, sponsored by the City Council.
The occasion was to present the new Councillors to citizens who reside in the Kingston – Cummingsburg Queenstown – Alberttown areas. These Councillors have been assigned responsibility for specific areas in the city.
The Councillors will be responsible for overseeing municipal matters affecting residents and to encourage them to assist the Council in its efforts to restore the City to its former state of cleanliness and maintain that standard.
The Minister explained that when she referred to managerial incompetence by the leaders, she was talking about a wide cross section of people in the Guyanese community both in the private and public sectors who hold leadership positions.
Minister Harding, described in the programme as the parliamentary representative for the area, urged Councillors to show a commitment to service pointing out that the Council is running a business entity and everything must be done to satisfy its customers, who are the citizens.
She spoke about the decline in excellence which is manifested in the way Guyanese talk, dress and behave generally.
The Councillors who were introduced were Alston Kissoon, William Galloway, Victor Pitt, Dr. Clifford Daniels, Dr. Jose Da Silva, Hans Barrow, Lucille Romeo and Paul Clarke. Mayor Compton Young, speaking after the Minister, said he will be the representative for the Albouystown area.
Councillors Kissoon and Galloway will be responsible for Kingston, Pitt, Daniels and Da Silva and Barrow have been assigned to Cummingsburg and Councillors Romeo and Clarke will be answerable to the citizens of Alberttown and Queenstown.
A similar meeting is to be held in Charlestown today.
Coffee Growers Reluctant To Pick Crop
GROWERS of Coffee in the Pomeroon Region are reluctant to harvest their crop because of the poor price being offered on the market for the product.
The tropical shrub of Asiatic and African origin is mostly cultivated in the Pomeroon in Region Two. Farmers are selling at $15.00 per pound which they claim cannot now offset labour costs.
Some farmers claimed, with the high cost of transportation and the tedious process associated with the drying of the raw coffee ‘seeds’; it is better to leave the crop on the trees.
Others who are picking say they may have to hoard the product and effect a hike in the price for the raw coffee ‘seeds’.
One farmer, Buyou Gonsalves, said he has so far not considered the possibility of abandoning the planting of coffee on his land. But, he said, he envisaged no rise in price for the shrub seeds since competition with foreign brands of coffee is very stiff.
Gonsalves was also critical of the illegal entry of other tea products into the country from neighbouring Venezuela which he said has also led to the decline of the price of the local coffee.
Gonsalves plants five acres of his 20-acre plot with coffee and claims that he has reached the stage where his pineapple crop is making up for the loss he is enduring from the coffee. He contended that no farmer can grow coffee alone and realise a profit.