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Sep 25, 2002

Concerns addressed, Barrow supports proposals

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He was a man caught between his own instincts and training as a diplomat, and the demands of a political party steeped in a tradition of rejection of anything associated with Guatemala. But tonight it appears that Opposition Leader Dean Barrow has bridged that gap. In an interview this afternoon he told News 5′s Stewart Krohn that after discussions and written correspondence with Foreign Minister Assad Shoman, he is satisfied that all six concerns officially expressed by the U.D.P. last week have been adequately addressed. He will consequently recommend that his party support the Ramphal/Reichler proposals to end the Guatemalan claim.

Dean Barrow, Leader of the Opposition

“So that it seems to me–without meaning to be in the least bit premature–that the way is certainly being cleared for the party now to take the position of saying an unqualified yes on the basis that the conditions would have been satisfied.”

Stewart Krohn

“Does that determination of whether the conditions have been met, that is yours alone to make or you will go through some consultative process?”

Dean Barrow

“I think I would want call the National Party Council back in session. This is of course a very delicate type of situation and I would not want to run the risk of having anybody accuse me of doing anything unilaterally. So I believe that I would want to summon the National Party Council back into session just so that they might formally sign off on it. But if what’s contained in the letter from Foreign Minister Shoman turns out to be true, then it does appear to me that all the conditions will be met and we ought to be in a position where nobody in our National Party Council would then have any difficulty indicating that the UDP would vote yes. We would still enter the caveat that of course we expect that individual members will exercise their individual right to follow their own conscience. But certainly, the party would have officially signalled its position, which would be in those circumstances that it would recommend to people that the vote be a yes vote.”

Stewart Krohn

“Looking ahead toward a referendum and toward dealing with the Guatemalans on this issue, what pitfalls do you see on the road ahead?”

Dean Barrow

“On our side, the only possible pitfall really is if people develop any sense that there is not full disclosure, that they are being told other than the whole truth and nothing that the truth, then I think the momentum that I feel is beginning to develop in favour of the proposals could be reversed. Apart from that, I think we are liable to be affected by events in Guatemala. And although we are being told, well we ought not to concern ourselves with those, as a matter of human nature I don’t see how we won’t. If it ever emerges that the Guatemalans are perhaps thinking seriously about scoffing the whole process, of having their congress say no even to a referendum, then clearly all bets are off the table. Even if that eventuality doesn’t materialise, I think that could poison the atmosphere here in this country tremendously. But as with everything, there are undoubted risks. It just seems to me that once the UDP conditions are met–conditions that I might say it turns out spoke to a number of concerns that a number of persons had–it seems to me that once those conditions are met and once people don’t feel that saying yes to the proposals means giving the authorities, Government and Opposition, a blank cheque, once they can feel that in fact the treaty language is going to reflect those concerns, it appears to me that undoubtedly we’re heading for… I would even go so far as to say an overwhelming yes vote in this country.”

“I am very happy with the fact that we have maintained the bipartisan national unity approach in generalised terms, even though we had problems over a matter of detail. So that together with what happened on Independence Day, when again despite what I thought were some setbacks with respect to the agreement that we would try to make the whole September celebrations a matter above partisan politics, we followed through on Independence Day. My speech was as you would have noticed, anodyne, to a degree where some of my supporters were quite upset. But I really do hope that we have reached a pass in this country where certain fundamentals will be above party politics. And indeed, if what appears to be this emerging consensus holds, with respect to the proposals, I think that it will be a great day for the development of our democracy and for the enhancement and expansion of our political culture.”

“I genuinely think that our democracy would have benefited tremendously from this experience. I don’t think it will make one iota of difference in terms of the way people vote, for example at the next general elections.”

In related news, this evening Foreign Minister Assad Shoman flew to Costa Rica where he will represent Prime Minister Said Musa at a meeting of Central American Heads of Government. Part of his mission will be to rally support for the proposals among regional leaders.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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