[www.inewsguyana.com] – As Guyana’s political parties continue to intensity their campaign in preparation for the May 11 General and Regional elections, concerns are being raised about the absence of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) at such a critical time in Guyana’s social climate.
According to Article 212 of the Guyana Constitution, the ERC promotes equality of opportunity among persons of different ethnic groups; promotes the elimination of all forms of ethnic-based discrimination; and discourages persons, institutions, political parties and associations from indulging in discriminatory practices such as the incitement of racial violence.
In July 2014, the members of that Commission were approved by the National Assembly and were scheduled to be subsequently sworn in by President Donald Ramotar, however this was never done.
The names that were submitted to the President for appointment were Pastor John Smith who represents the Christian community; Rajkumarie Singh, the Hindu community; and Sheik Moen ul-Hack Hack from the Muslim community; Norris Witter, Labour; Ravindra Dev, Private Sector organisation; Gomattie Kalicharran, youth organisation; Ruth Howard, women’s organisation; Peter Persaud, Amerindian groups; Barrington Braithwaite, African groups; and Neaz Subhan, Indian group.
Member of the Private Sector Commission, Captain Gerry Gouveia in an interview with iNews on Sunday, February 15 said it is important that the body be functional in the run up to elections given the role that it will play in monitoring political parties to ensure that racial violence or racist “inflammatory” remarks were not made.
According to him, it would be “unfortunate if the ERC is not up and running during this elections period.”