The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) on Saturday called on the government to initiate an “ethnic and national reconciliation” process, while warning that tensions between the country’s two major ethnic groups poses a danger to national stability.
In its message to mark the 183rd Emancipation anniversary, the WPA noted that this year’s observation comes at a critical time for African Guyanese as they continue to navigate the changed political environment triggered by the change of government a year ago.
“In our charged and divisive political environment, any change of government brings with it new anxieties and fears for the group represented by the losing political contestant. But the controversial nature of the last election has left in its trail an unprecedented ethnic fallout that has worsened ethnic relations between the two major ethnic groups. The situation has been exacerbated by the apparent ethnic insensitivity by the new government which interprets its mandate in broader and more absolute terms than is usual,” the party, which had been part of the former APNU+AFC coalition government that lost office last year, said.
The party further warned of the dangers being posed by what it described as a “fast-deteriorating situation,” while also noting that ethnic peace is pivotal to the maintenance of national stability. “It is for that reason the WPA urges the government to use its institutional power to begin a process of ethnic and national reconciliation. There is no better moment to begin this process than on the anniversary of the formal end of the most evil socio-economic and political system known to mankind. We ask the government to take the lead because it holds institutional power in its hands,” it added.
In addition, the party said it is concerned that African Guyanese are not equitably represented in the areas of the economy that facilitate wealth-generation. “As the rich get richer and the poor get poorer the wealth-gap is reproduced at an alarming rate. This is an affliction that must be corrected if Guyana is to achieve its stated motto of a united nation. The two major political players must move beyond their narrow partisan visions and use the State to begin to correct this injustice,” it said, while arguing that the oil economy will not bring the kind of national liberation from poverty that is envisaged if the ethnic inequities are not corrected. “The wealth by itself would not solve the ethnic problems. But even as we make that observation, we have to stress that the oil wealth, however depleted, must be equitably distributed among all groups. For us in the WPA this is non-negotiable, and we are prepared to fight tooth and nail for this outcome.”
The party also urged African Guyanese to begin to fashion new politics that reach beyond the narrow confines of party politics as well as a more open dialogue between African Guyanese leadership and followership on the responsibilities of elected representatives. “The era of covering up the shortcomings of leaders must come to an end. We urge the community to demand servant-leaders and more importantly to avoid being imprisoned by one party or the other,” it said.
The party also stressed that it remains committed to fighting for all ethnic groups, especially the “down pressed,” while adding that it is for this reason that it put on the national agenda the universal cash transfer as a policy that discriminates against no one ethnic group. “On this Emancipation anniversary, we urge the African Guyanese community to endorse and advocate for this policy initiative as a democratic way to ensure that all Guyanese directly benefits from our oil wealth,” it said, referencing a proposal for cash transfers from oil revenues to the citizenry.