Guyana Resource Center
Set like a gem in the crown of South America, nestled on the North-Eastern shoulder, defying the raging Atlantic Ocean, Guyana's many waterways reflect the source of it's name "The Land of Many Waters"
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Sunday, May 21, 2006
Remembering Independence
The road to Independence

From a constitutional point of view the process, which culminated at 12:03 hours in the early morning of May 26, 1966, with the hoisting of the Golden Arrowhead, had its origin in the first Constitutional Conference, which opened on October 23, 1962 at Lancaster House in London.

It was attended by members of the three major political parties of the time - the People's Progressive Party (PPP), which constituted the Government of the day, the People's National Congress and the United Force.

Discussions did not proceed smoothly. Disagreements between the PPP and the PNC, primarily over whether a constituency electoral system should be abandoned in favour of proportional representation, caused the adjournment of the conference until the following year.

When the conference reconvened in October 1963, agreement was still not in sight. In order to avoid a deadlock, both sides, including Dr Jagan eventually agreed to sign what has become known as the Sandys' letter (Duncan Sandys was the British Colonial Secretary at the time), which allowed the British to decide the issue, among others. The British chose proportional representation as the future electoral system of the country.

The conference had not decided a date of Independence, but elections were held in 1964 under the new electoral arrangements. Allying himself with Peter D'Aguiar's United Force, Burnham formed a coalition government.

The 1965 Constitutional Conference, which met primarily to set a date for Independence, was boycotted by the PPP, which objected to the imposition of proportional representation. After three weeks of deliberations, the date for Independence was finally settled.

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