Deputy Chief of Missions at the U.S Embassy in Guyana, Bryan Hunt, has offered some “free advice” for moving the Guyanese society forward as he prepares to leave these shores after three years.
At a Friday night farewell reception in the backyard of the US Ambassador’s official residence, Hunt said Guyana has a lot to look forward to, but there must be the repairing of the many divisions in the society.
He said regardless of how the divisions are defined, they must be changed.
“Whether you want to define them as racial, ethnic, or political, there is no question that yours is a divided society. Regardless of who sits in Central Government, about half of the population feels completely excluded. This has to Change”, he urged the gathering, which included Government and Opposition Members, Judges, Diplomats, businessmen and journalists.
He called for the winner takes all system in Guyana’s political system to be abolished and for more power to be decentralized. The outgoing diplomat also pressed for constitutional reform to tackle many of the issues facing the country. He said there is a need for “significant constitutional” reform in Guyana, as he reminded that the parliament belongs to the people and the politicians who take up the seats there are servants of the people.
For a number of years, Guyana has been flagged internationally as a country where corruption exists. There were calls under the previous government for the problem to be tackled. The new government is being pressed to focus its attention on stamping out corruption and that was one of the other pieces of free advice offered by Hunt.
“Stamp out corruption wherever and in whatever form it occurs”, he said, as he also encouraged that “anyone who has stolen, is stealing, or in the future attempts to steal state resources must be criminally charged and held accountable before a court of law”. Hunt also called for the implementation of conflict of interest legislation and enforceable asset disclosure requirements.
Once again, he called for the establishment of the public procurement commission and encouraged the empowerment of the media and civil society through greater transparency in government.
The Deputy Chief of Missions said racial, ethnic and political differences must be set aside in the interest of the country and its development.
Mr. Hunt will be heading to Mozambique when he leaves Guyana. He told the gathering that he will not forget his experiences in the land of many waters.
During his tenure, he served as the Acting Chief of Missions for over a year and was instrumental in pushing for local government elections.
He was one of the first diplomats and observes to declare that the 2015 National Elections in Guyana were free, fair and credible.