President recommits to coalition politics, inclusionary democracy

Leader of the PNCR President David Granger (Delano Williams photo)

– as PNCR 20th Biennial Delegates Congress opens

A section of the attendees at the opening of the 20th Biennial Delegates Congress on Friday at Congress Place, Sophia (Delano Williams photo)

LEADER of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) President David Granger on Friday assured supporters that his party remains committed to coalition politics and will continue to work together with its partners to afford the good life to all Guyanese.
President Granger was at the time addressing delegates, special invitees, and members of his government at the PNCR’s 20th Biennial Delegates Congress at Congress Place, Sophia. In his 50-minute-long address, the party leader reminded his audience that it was the PNCR that was instrumental in the establishment of an inclusionary five-party Partnership for National Unity (APNU) in June 2011.

The APNU, in turn, entered into the Cummingsburg Accord in February 2015 with the Alliance For Change (AFC), which when combined (APNU+AFC) now forms the government.
“The PNCR, together with its political and civil partners, remains committed to the multi-party coalition, bound together by the Cummingsburg Accord to constructive dialogue with the political parliamentary opposition, and with civil society to strengthen the practice of ‘inclusionary democracy’; to the ideals of coalition politics and to the broader aspiration of national unity; to perfecting our incipient system of shared governance in the belief that the coalition parties are better together than apart,” said the President, as Leader and Chairman of the AFC Raphael Trotman and Khemraj Ramjattan paid keen attention.
“Our commitment to the practice of ‘an inclusionary democracy’ has been vindicated, confirming the efficacy and necessity of the unique coalition that we created and which the electorate accepted,” President Granger noted.

It is through the very inclusionary democracy, the President said, that Guyanese have started to receive “unquestionable benefits” in every area. He noted that such inclusionary politics has allowed for the deployment of broad-based expertise in nation-building and has also reignited hope and galvanised goodwill to confront the challenges inherited when the coalition took office in 2015.

“The coalition governs for the common good. The situation which it found on assuming office was worse than could have been imagined. It was a hellish inheritance,” said the PNCR leader.

Some members of the diplomatic community attend the opening of the 20th Biennial Delegates Congress Friday at Congress Place, Sophia (Delano Williams photo)

Referencing the aftermath of what he calls ‘the troubles’ of the first decade of the new millennium, President Granger said the period was rife with “uncounted execution murders, uninvestigated massacres, unreported abuses, unimpeded narcotics-trafficking and seemingly unstoppable criminal violence.”

The head-of-state said his government is still trying to “unravel the murky motives” behind the killings by way of Commissions of Inquiry.

“The inquiry into the Lindo Creek Massacre, for example,” he said, “was alarming, not only for the loss of life, but also for the loss of trust in a few officials and officers. It is disquieting that not a single minister or senior official of the previous administration has ever come forward to provide evidence to assist in solving this atrocious crime. Their silence was eloquent testimony of the licence which criminal elements enjoyed during their troubled tenure during the ‘Troubles.”

As such, Granger said the biennial congress has a duty, and the country a right to know what happened, and to learn the lessons of the “criminal atrocity.”
“We must ensure that our defence and security forces protect society and are never again infiltrated or manipulated by criminal cartels or corrupt officials,” Granger stated.

On the economic front, President Granger said his coalition government, notwithstanding the magnitude of challenges it has encountered since entering government in May 2015, has been working tirelessly to repair the damage “wrought by the mismanagement of the previous regime and to transform the economy with a stronger role for an efficient public sector.”

Guyanese musician Eddy Grant (second left) stands with former Mayor Hamilton Green (left); Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes (third left); Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally (right) and other attendees just after the opening ceremony of the 20th Biennial Delegates Congress on Friday at Congress Place, Sophia (Delano Williams photo)

He stressed that the coalition government has been diligent in its stewardship, and has set about to solve the country’s most pressing problems and to lay the foundation for stabilising the economy. He pointed to attempts to reverse the economic decline, noting that real growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has since been sustained and inflation moderated.

“The economy is being rebalanced,” he stated, as he noted the restructuring of the traditional sectors.

Meanwhile, he said, the PNCR continues to demonstrate “its fitness to lead” this country.
The head-of-state, who spoke to the packed-to-capacity Hall of Heroes area of attendees, delegates and members of his coalition government and members of the diplomatic corps and cultural icon and musician Eddie Grant, reminded that his party, founded by the late Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, “is a sturdy party.”

The PNCR, he said, was erected on a solid structure and wedded to strong principles. He said, too, that the biennial delegates’ congress represents a “powerful and pivotal political event”, as he outlined his government’s achievements over the past three years.

“This congress is a vindication of the PNCR’s fitness to lead in this era of change. It keeps the party aware of the changes occurring in the communities and in the country as a whole. Change is continuous and the party needs to be ready to adjust continuously, while being guided by its core principles in order to remain relevant to the country’s conditions and the people’s aspirations,” he said.

The party leader, who will remain at the helm unchallenged, said the party’s congress which is held every two years brings the party’s leaders together to communicate, collaborate and to recommit to fulfilling our long-term ideological goals of serving the people and preserving our beautiful country.

President David Granger and First Lady Sandra Granger arrive to a warm welcome at Congress Place ahead of the opening of the PNCR’s 20th Biennial Delegates Congress (Delano Williams photo)

Delegates from all 10 administrative regions and the diaspora, and from all three administrative levels — local, regional and central – around a collective vision of the destiny of the country and the future of our children come together at this time to discuss important matters and make critical decisions.

“Congress has much to accomplish in a few brief days,” Granger said, noting that it seeks to review the party’s performance in government, and direct its ministers, members of the National Assembly and councillors in regions and neighbourhoods to the way forward over the next two years.

It will also serve to renew the networks among party members, aimed at collectively improving their communities; recognising differences and difficulties when they arise and to propose new policies to be pursued; and re-set the agenda for governance – as this, arguably, will be the last congress before local government elections (LGEs) in 2018 and before the general and regional elections in 2020 – and energise the party for success at these polls.

He assured delegates, who were eager to greet and listen to him, that the congress will listen to their views, learn about their challenges, share experiences, take decisions, and adopt measures to promote the “good life for all.”

President Granger stressed that given the PNCR’s history, it has “done more and gone far further” than any other party in our history to create an inclusionary democracy; an objective that is prescribed by the Constitution of Guyana.

Meanwhile, President Granger has asserted that his party has performed well. “It is the natural, national leader. It is the party of and for the future,” he stated, while noting that the party is giving effect to the constitutional principle of inclusionary democracy and helping to transform the political culture and the national economy by emphasising the need to reduce inequality; dismantling the authoritarian apparatus of managing municipalities and empowering local communities; managing economic transformation prudently by eradicating poverty, eliminating inequality and promoting economic independence; establishing the mechanism to ensure that the incipient petroleum sector is managed in accordance with the international best principles; and ensuring that the most transformative development in our country’s economic history becomes an opportunity to ensure that its revenues provide a sustainable and prosperous future for all.

“Everyone wins with the PNCR – a party which represents all segments and strata of society. The PNCR will continue to guide the government to pursue policies and plans which will ensure that everyone will benefit from economic and social development,” said President Granger.

Dancers of the National School of Dance perform during the opening ceremony of the 20th Biennial Congress of the PNCR on Friday (Delano WILLIAMS)

The PNCR leader noted, too, that within government his party has been a force of good in improving the lives of citizens and the congress re-affirms that the PNCR is a party of the people, for all the people. As such, he foresees the party will emerge strong in the 2018 LGEs to be in a better position to protect local democracy, to empower citizens and to revitalise local communities.

Additionally, President Granger said that his party in partnership with the other stakeholders will compete in the upcoming General and Regional Elections, so that the goal of the ‘good life’ for all can be realised collectively.

“Guyana’s children deserve to grow up in a country in which the ‘good life’ is assured. Guyanese deserve a party that ensures the protection of the law, safety from criminal Violence, a healthy environment and a good standard of living. Guyana is a country of a thousand opportunities for prosperity and happiness. This is the party! This is the country. This is the time!” the President declared.

Before the start of the programme, President Granger, who was accompanied by First Lady Sandra Granger, was entertained by students of the National School of Dance, saxophonist Roy Stewart and the Victoria Regia Quartet.

Themed “Better together for a brighter tomorrow,” the congress will conclude on Sunday with the election of office bearers. Thereafter, the party will host its first rally ahead of the November 12, 2018 LGEs at the Stabroek Market Square.