– Had facilitated political dialogue here
Sir Paul Reeves, who once served as the Special Envoy of the Commonwealth to facilitate political dialogue during tense elections periods in Guyana, has died.
Sir Paul, New Zealand’s first Maori governor-general, lost his battle to cancer Sunday, aged 78.
Sir Don McKinnon, chairman of Regional Facilities Auckland and former Commonwealth secretary general, said Sir Paul was an international figure of distinction through his involvement with the United Nations and the Commonwealth.
“As Commonwealth Secretary General, I appointed him my special envoy to Guyana where his valuable work in assisting political parties in their dialogue process after a series of difficult elections was widely recognised.
“I believe he visited Guyana at least 15 times in this capacity and I know he will be missed by many in that country,” Sir Don said.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said he was deeply saddened at news of the passing away of Sir Paul. He said the loss is felt across many countries and communities of the Commonwealth where Sir Paul’s presence and contributions for the good have been felt.
“As Commonwealth Special Envoy to Guyana from 2002, Sir Paul played an instrumental role in supporting the creation of a political environment where fair and peaceful elections could take place,” the Commonwealth Secretariat said.
Sir Paul also served on the Commonwealth’s behalf in South Africa, Ghana, and most recently as the Secretary-General’s personal Special Representative to Fiji.
Sir Paul visited Guyana between 2002 and 2006, when he noted that a prolonged political impasse between the two major political parties had scarred the political landscape of Guyana of recent years.
In late 2002, following a request from President Bharrat Jagdeo, the Commonwealth Secretary-General appointed Sir Paul Special Envoy to Guyana.
His initial mandate was to promote dialogue between President Jagdeo and the leader of the opposition, Desmond Hoyte. But he was determined to ensure that such a dialogue did not substitute for, or undermine, the legitimate democratic framework.
Sir Paul insisted that the parliament had a prime role in the life of Guyana and that dialogue should take place within the parliamentary framework.
“While I was bringing the two political parties together to talk, I was able to use my role as Special Envoy to encourage debate within Guyana about what democracy really could be.
“I encouraged people from across the political spectrum to consider afresh the rights and responsibilities of government and opposition,” he stated in an article about his role in Guyana.
Sir Paul regularly met not only with key figures in government and opposition, but with members of civil society, the protective services, representatives of the international community, and the media.
Reflecting on the 2006 elections, which were arguably the most peaceful in Guyana’s history, Sir Paul said that that the election went so well was “a tribute to the patience and hope of ordinary people in Guyana.”
Sir Paul would be accorded a State Funeral at Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral on Thursday.
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