Race: Pres­i­dent Granger has the power in his hands

Stabroek News Sunday - - LETTERS -

From page 7

the streets of Ge­orge­town were their “kith and kin,” which ap­peared to sug­gest that ri­ot­ers should be abet­ted be­cause of race.

Guyana takes a se­ri­ous view of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion and racial hos­til­ity. Racial dis­crim­i­na­tion is pro­hib­ited by ar­ti­cle 149 of the Con­sti­tu­tion. By the Racial Hos­til­ity Act passed in 1964, an era marked by racial dis­tur­bances and killings, a per­son is guilty of a crim­i­nal of­fence who ex­cites or at­tempts racial hos­til­ity or ill-will against any sec­tion of the pub­lic or any per­son on the grounds of their or his or her race by means of words spo­ken in a pub­lic place or spo­ken and trans­mit­ted for gen­eral re­cep­tion by wire­less teleg­ra­phy or tele­graph or by means of writ­ten or printed mat­ter. The Preven­tion of Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act passed in 1997 pro­hibits dis­crim­i­na­tion on the grounds of race and for other rea­sons in em­ploy­ment, pay and in other ar­eas.

The se­ri­ous­ness with which the leg­is­la­ture has treated with the is­sue of race in its ma­jor as­pects has not been re­flected in the at­ti­tude of the pop­u­la­tion. The rea­son for this, and the rea­son why change would be slow and racial abuse and in­cite­ment would con­tinue to be ac­cept­able among many people, and would re­flect their ‘per­sonal phi­los­o­phy,’ is be­cause the eth­nic di­vi­sions at the base of our so­ci­ety have de­ter­mined and sus­tain its po­lit­i­cal su­per­struc­ture.

Un­less the su­per­struc­ture is wholly or par­tially dis­man­tled, racial abuse will re­main a part of our lives, re­flec­tive of our ‘per­sonal phi­los­o­phy.’

Pres­i­dent Granger has the power in his hands to ame­lio­rate the sharp­ness of racial or eth­nic an­tag­o­nism. APNU+AFC has pro­posed a pack­age of con­sti­tu­tional re­forms that in­cludes: 1. The vice-pres­i­dent be­ing the per­son who came sec­ond in the elec­tions; 2. The shar­ing of the gov­ern­ment with all po­lit­i­cal par­ties gain­ing over 15 per cent of the vote.

I know as a fact that Prime Min­is­ter Moses Nag­amootoo has al­ways been as strong sup­porter of a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion in the form of a coali­tion gov­ern­ment be­tween the two main po­lit­i­cal par­ties and would not stand in the way of such a so­lu­tion.

There is there­fore no ob­sta­cle to Pres­i­dent Granger now im­me­di­ately invit­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Ramo­tar to be his Prime Min­is­ter and invit­ing the PPP/C to nom­i­nate 49 per cent of the mem­bers of the cab­i­net. Con­sti­tu­tional re­form will in due course in­sti­tu­tion­alise this coali­tion.

This new po­lit­i­cal dis­pen­sa­tion will im­me­di­ately re­duce sub­stan­tially the ex­tent of racial or eth­nic an­tag­o­nism that ex­ists in our so­ci­ety.

It will not elim­i­nate racial dishar­mony or abuse, but it will be a start. It will also lay the real foun­da­tion for re­duced cor­rup­tion and po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity.

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