Bishop Farncis Alleyne
The Roman Catholic Church in Guyana on Tuesday broke its more than two-decade long silence on the political environment here by announcing that it woud re-establish a pressure group and calling on President Donald Ramotar to revoke the suspension of Parliament.
“I, therefore, call on all Guyanese and their leaders to ensure that we navigate these uncertain times peacefully, honestly and respectfully with a view to the earliest resumption of parliamentary democracy,” said Bishop Francis Alleyne in a statement.
The Roman Catholic Church, Organisation of American States (OAS) and the local non-governmental organisation, Blue CAPS, separately called on Ramotar to lift the suspension of the Parliament.
Prior to the 1992 general and regional elections that saw the return of the incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) to office after almost 30 years in opposition due to rigged elections, the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches had been harshly critical of the social, political and economic environments at that time. The President and his ruling PPPC have maintained that the prorogation of the Parliament on Monday would pave the way for dialogue on key national issues rather than the dissolution and calling of fresh elections in 90 days.
The opposition Alliance For Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) have, however, vowed to bring back the no-confidence motion and other pending matters whenever the President lifts the suspension during the maximum allowable six month period. During that time, he can also dissolve the Parliament at any time and name election day which could be in late January before the list expires at the end of that month.
Bishop Alleyne also used the opportunity to announce the church’s re-establishment of the Justice and Peace Commission, considered in some quarters as a vocal pressure group of the Roman Catholic Diocese. He said Commission members, Gino Persaud and Lawrence Lachmansingh, have been mandated to engage parishes to pray, reflect, discuss and discern the urgings of the Holy Spirit as it relates to justice and peace in Guyana.
The Bishop urged all Guyanese to join hands and find solutions to both the immediate impasse and the longer-term causes that led to this crisis. He pledged his support for initiatives that bring people together in common cause for their beloved country.
Alleyne admitted that the Catholic Church here has in former times been in the forefront to promote justice and peace in Guyana, but suggested the need for institutional and relational strengthening.”We must find new ways of relating to each other, and better structures to support and encourage those improved relations,” he said.
The Roman Catholic Bishop identified reconciliation and trust as being critical to restoring and building Guyana.
Tabling of the no-confidence motion by the AFC has stemmed from what that party has said has been the Finance Minister’s spending of monies from the Consolidated Fund on projects and programmes that were not approved by the opposition. The AFC and APNU are also upset that the President has refused to assent Bills and honour Motions passed by the opposition-controlled National Assembly.
The AFC has seven seats while APNU has 26, with the remaining 32 occupied by the PPP.