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By Zena HenryKaieteur News reporter Zena Henry in conversation with US Ambassador D Brent Hardt and Programme Management Specialist, USAID Cloe NobleUS Ambassador to Guyana,Jerseys NFL Wholesale, Mr. D. Brent Hardt says that the 2011 elections provided the backdrop for political inclusiveness which would allow for the strengthening of democratic institutions, good governance and political awareness.In an interview with Kaieteur News last week, Ambassador Hardt said that the 2011 elections provided a real opportunity for shared governance, and revealed the necessity to strengthen areas requiring cohesiveness. As a result the need for aid in the area of governance was recognized.It was explained that the US has a long track record of supporting democratic institutions and good governance in Guyana. He noted that supporting these areas is merely a part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) overall duties, which includes the promotion of economic growth and development.He explained that the USAID’s funding for democracy and good governance was shifted to Barbados, but when the last general elections facilitated shared governance, it was felt that funding in those areas could be returned.“We thought; ‘we’ve been investing in democracy and governance in Guyana for decades, here’s a real opportunity to strengthen parliament as an institution, the National Assembly, and to hopefully move forward with local government elections,’” Hardt posited.The idea, he said,NFL Jerseys China Cheap, was sold to USAID and the state department in Washington D.C. “The proposal was then reviewed and approved by the USAID panel which looks at projects all over the world where embassies make proposal through opportunities like these.”ImplementationWhile explaining that the US and its agencies do not provide funding to any party or political body, Hardt mentioned that the programme addresses specifically, capacity building. For this reason, an independent body, the International Republican Institute (IRI), has been contracted and is charged to work in the three identified areas.IRI will encourage compromise, and work on local leaders’ abilities to work together in the name of national interest. Already, Hardt informed, members of IRI are in Guyana and have met with stakeholders from Office of the President, Leader of the Opposition, the speaker of the National Assembly, organizations and international donors. The project is however in its start up phase, Kaieteur News was told. In coming months, the country director would be identified and brought to Guyana to commence work.As it relates to strengthening youth involvement in politics, Hardt said the IRI will have the major task of aiding leaders to reach young people and making them aware of the political system. The agency will be working to train, educate and provide support in this area since “after meeting with young people, they are not interested in the traditional political system; of ethnicity voting and are very concerned about things that matter to them. “Hardt acknowledged the completion of four Select Committee Bills relevant to the holding of local polls, before noting that local elections would be prime priority, subsequent to their passage. He said it is hoped that the Bills would be passed before parliament’s summer recess thus giving the IRI time to effectively work in this area.“I think a lot of people are not sure what this entails,Cheap Jerseys For Sale, since it’s different and broader education needs to take place,Cheap NFL Jerseys,” Hardt added. He brought up the reality that local government elections have not been held since 1994 and pointed out that citizens need to be educated on the importance of this local body. The passage of the Bills, he further mentioned, would allow for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to prepare itself and disseminate the necessary information for local polls.Hardt expects the IRI to aid parliament in a way where they can cooperate.“The parties will have their ideas and their way of doing things, but being able to compromise, that is the recipe for good governance and democracy.”There will be seminars and direct engagement with stakeholders in the provision of technical and analytic support for parliament, ‘through diagnostic tools where entities can look at information gathering, prioritization, good policy making, strategic planning and effective communication.Challenges“We recognize that we are working in the area of democracy and governance, it is a sensitive area, it’s politics,” Hardt admitted, “and parties are generally concerned with how something is going to affect their prospects, but we intend to maintain active engagements and discourse with stakeholders so different views, policies and ideas are addressed.“Our tradition has been to work impartially, in an open and transparent way making that commitment to all parties. We are offering capacity building support in an equal way to all people interested in taking advantage of it.”He agreed when asked, that in any society striving for democracy causes political bodies to bump heads. The hope however, is that the programme will encourage a constructive interactive model for the parties, “which will be a win- win for the country.”He highlighted that since there is a mixed scenario, where everyone has a seat at the table, the Assembly will be aided in figuring out how to encourage openness and transparency. Coupled with that,Nike Air Max 95 Sale, the programme will help build the Assembly’s legislation drafting capacity,NFL Jerseys China, research capacity, so as to provide vast information for those debating Bills, while providing grounds for better policy making.Hardt noted that while the UNAID is working in this particular area, collaborating with other international agencies is imperative as to not clash with works that they might be providing. Rather, he said, it is making sure that what we are doing (the programme) is well coordinated and complimenting work in those civil areas.“All donors realize that this is the right time for Guyana and they are committed to making the Assembly a more effective institution and connecting between entities while building awareness in the country.”The United States, through its embassy here in Guyana will be helping the country to strengthen areas within the local political system.Some $300M (US$1.5M) was recently pledged to aid with parliament’s effectiveness, local government elections and the engagement of young people in the political system.
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