Constitutional reform should be a front burner issue at dialogue

Dear Editor,

Former President Jimmy Carter must be commended for his role in promoting democracy and good governance not only in Guyana but the world at large. It is an acknowledged fact that President Carter was highly instrumental in influencing a number of electoral reforms which resulted in the first free and fair elections in Guyana on October 5, 1992 after nearly three decades of undemocratic rule.

Among the electoral reforms were a reconstituted Elections Commission, counting of votes at the place of poll, and a new Voters’ List. Regrettably, the Carter-Price Formula which was introduced to select a Chairman for the Guyana Elections Commission has now been jettisoned and a new Chairman has been unilaterally appointed by President Granger. This move is a reversal of the ‘checks and balances’ mechanism advocated by President Carter to create a climate of trust and confidence in the electoral processes which was eroded in the past by a series of consecutive rigged elections.

It would appear that the way is now cleared, thanks to the intervention of President Carter, for dialogue between the Government and the political opposition on a number of important national issues including the emerging oil and gas sector, environmental issues and crime. However, the issue of constitutional reform which President Carter has strongly advocated for Guyana is not listed among the issues for discussion.

I wish to urge that constitutional reforms become a front burner issue and not be allowed to languish at the whims and fancies of those who walk the corridors of power.

I have always maintained the view that the way forward for Guyana is for a new governance paradigm where the current system of ‘winner takes it all’ gives way to shared and inclusive governance.

The Carter Center has made some interesting proposals in this regard and I think these and other governance proposals should be put on the table for national discourse as a matter of urgency.

The current administration must bear responsibility for the sloth in advancing the process. It has failed to honour its commitment to fast track the process and the issue for all practical purposes now seem to be in cold storage.

Yours faithfully,

Hydar Ally

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