President Irfaan Ali says that the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) needs to take responsibility and stand up in the face of wrongdoings, which the body failed to do following the March 2 General Elections.

The Head of State made this statement while fielding questions on his Government’s non-participation in the ERC’s National Conversation which was held on December 14 and 15, under the theme ‘Understand. Respect. Unite: Bridging the Ethnic Divide’.

“The question first of all has to be understood in context… I think that the Government has made it very clear that one of the pressing issues we faced over the last five months was that of an elections, when democracy was under threat. Every single stakeholder in Guyana agrees that democracy was under threat, but ERC did not issue a single statement, the ERC went hiding,” he said.

The President lamented too on the lack of consultation with regards to the participants and the presenters for the event. He noted that the courtesy of an invitation was not extended to the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, the Hon. Gail Teixeira.

“How did you arrive at the names? …The same questions the Guyanese people are asking, how did they determine who made the presentation? How did they come up with the theme? You can’t just pop up a name. There has to be some sort of consultation, some sort of dialogue… I am not shy about speaking about these matters.”

President Ali pointed to the fact that there were individuals involved in the discussion who were also part of a process to derail democracy. He maintained that his Government is committed to governance through a consultative process.

The president is the latest to upbraid the Commission in recent days. During the ERC’s National Conversation on improving race relations, the Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon rapped the Commission for “insensitive” comments one of its own Commissioners made on social media.

Harmon told the ERC that it’s Commissioners must be held to a higher standard of accountability, while emphasising the need for the body to weed out elements that “serve to fan the flames of ethnic disharmony”.


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