Joinder parties want inclusion in parliamentary committees

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See below for a full statement from the Joinder political parties today

At the March 2 general and regional elections, an increasingly important proportion of the Guyanese people expressed a desire to have the historic combination of three political parties, the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and The New Movement (TNM) represented in the National Assembly. That representative is currently Member of Parliament Hon. Lenox Shuman.

In the recent selection of members of select and sectoral committees of the National Assembly, the two main political parties reneged on their promise of inclusivity when it came down to a most critical and substantive matter, such as constitutional reform, by failing to nominate a member of the joinder to any of the Parliamentary committees which carry out important work that brings about reform through legislative intervention. With only the two large ethnic-based parties being represented on these committees, we can be sure of stand-offs, retarded progress and the same old modus operandi that has failed to bring us to a the level of transparency and efficiency characteristic of a progressive society.

Although the two parties represent 90% of the electorate, unfortunately, the real effect is not that the will of 90% of the electorate will be carried out, but rather, the interest of the two parties who have been notorious for using the state and legislative arms of government to advance their own agenda. Including representation from the smaller parties would have seen greater diversity in views, and undoubtedly, a voice of reason wherever gridlock might arise.

The standing orders that exist currently, which govern the selection of these parliamentary committees, perpetuate the 2 party system by forcing all opposition parties to fall under the discretion of the “opposition leader”. This gives the largest opposition party control over whether the third parties will be given a seat on the parliamentary committees, and insitutionalises an undemocratic system which leaves a significant portion of the electorate unrepresented in the decision making processes. All voters who have representation in the National Assembly should fairly be represented at the table, and this should be reflected in the standing orders. The joinder seat will be proposing these amendments.

The recent history of Guyana demonstrates that an interlocutor is or ought to be considered to be a vital component in Guyana’s politics. No one can fail to see that the political gridlock which has prevailed for decades in Guyana will not be resolved unless there is a group that is prepared to hold both institutionalized parties accountable and ensure transparency.

In the circumstances, we call on the main political parties in the National Assembly to put aside their harmful and polarizing politics by permitting the only interlocutor in Parliament a voice in these Parliamentary committees in Guyana’s interest.