AFC-Canada withdraws support from party leadership

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The Canadian faction of the Alliance For Change (AFC) has withdrawn its support from the Party until the leadership publicly condemns President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of 84 – year – old Justice James Patterson as the new Chairperson of GECOM.

According to a letter sent to the Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) including its Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan and Leader Raphael Trotman, the Canadian Chapter said they believe the appointment of Justice James Patterson violates the spirit, letter and intent of the constitution.

The Canadian Chapter told the AFC leadership that they believe the President had made up his mind in advance on whom he wanted to be the chairman and that he recklessly enforced his wish.

The faction said it has withdrawn its membership, support, and assistance from the party until the leadership criticizes the president’s decision to unilaterally appoint the GECOM Chairman.

The political Diaspora group is also questioning whether it is time the AFC disassociates itself from the Peoples National Congress (PNC) and the coalition administration altogether.

The Chapter also questioned the credibility of the AFC leadership.

“The AFC has stated that it was not consulted on the selection process by the President but it agrees with and supports the President’s process and decision. We find AFC’s position untenable, especially in light of the spirit of consultation and cooperation enshrined in the Cummingsburg Accord. Further, we have evidence that AFC’s leadership and the President did have consultation about the suitability of the individuals submitted by the Opposition Leader. This has caused us to have extreme reservation about the credibility of AFC’s leadership,” the letter said.

The Diaspora group also expressed some grievances over the fact that the party formed a coalition with the PNC.

An excerpt from the letter said “Members and supporters were of the unequivocal understanding that AFC will maintain its independence. Yet, just before the 2015 general election, without any consultation of its members and supporters, the AFC performed the most outlandish volte-face. It became a coalition partner with the PNC.”

The letter added “Members and supporters are still debating the question of, in whose interest was this decision made – the country, the Party and its members, or was it for the selected few who are in lucrative Governmental positions today.”

AFC Canada believes that continued association with the PNC will result in complete annihilation of the party.

The group also raised concerns about several breaches of the Cummingsburg Accord, the agreement outlining protocols for the shared governance between the APNU and AFC. The group called for the accord to be rewritten to give it legal enforceability with definitive time limits for its implementation.

See below for full letter:

Dear Messrs. Raphael Trotman (Leader) & Khemraj Ramjattan (Chairman) & National Executive Committee-Alliance For Change (AFC) Alliance For Change – Canada (AFC-Canada) has been a long-standing supporter of the AFC political party and contributed substantial financial and intellectual property to the Party. It is also a member of the National Executive Committee. AFC-Canada, at its recently concluded meeting in Toronto, considered a number of issues as they relate to the Alliance For Change and its role in the coalition government of Guyana. Appointment of GECOM chairman AFC-Canada is of the considered opinion that President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of Justice (retired) James Patterson, as Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) Chairman, violates the letter, intent and spirit of the Constitution of Guyana. Regardless of the outcome of the challenge of the validity of the appointment before the Court, we believe that the President misled the people that he genuinely considered the eighteen names submitted to him by the Opposition Leader. He had made up his mind in advance on whom he wanted to be the chairman and he recklessly enforced his wish. The ten months of purported deliberation, on the suitability of individuals on the lists, was clearly a charade. The President’s action smells of years gone by of rigged and fraudulent elections under the PNC dictatorship. Guyanese must guard against any threat to our emergent democratic gains. The AFC has stated that it was not consulted on the selection process by the President but it agrees with and supports the President’s process and decision. We find AFC’s position untenable, especially in light of the spirit of consultation and cooperation enshrined in the Cummingsburg Accord. Further, we have evidence that AFC’s leadership and the President did have consultation about the suitability of the individuals submitted by the Opposition Leader. This has caused us to have extreme reservation about the credibility of AFC’s leadership. The Cummingsburg Accord and Constitutional Reform AFC was born out of disenchantment with the PNC and the PPP political parties. Members and supporters were of the unequivocal understanding that AFC will maintain its independence. This position was reinforced by documentation and constant reiteration of AFC leaders. Yet, just before the 2015 general election, without any consultation of its members and supporters, the AFC leadership performed the most outlandish volte face. It became a coalition partner with the PNC. Members and supporters are still debating the question of, in whose interest was this decision made – the country, the Party and its members, or was it for the selected few who are in lucrative Governmental positions today. The AFC submitted to its members and followers that the Cummingsburg Accord was the panacea of all past and possible future infractions of the PNC. This document commits the coalition partners to accept and promote dialogue, discussion and the use of constitutional means to advance economic, political and social change. It speaks of the high value of mutual respect and rejected ethnicity as a consideration for the participation of citizens in government. Also, AFC was guaranteed forty percent participation in governance. This was taken to mean, forty percent in all levels of direct and indirect governance. AFC-Canada is convinced that the Cummingsburg Accord is a farce perpetrated on the members and followers of the Party. It was used as a tool to placate members and followers so that the leaders can smoothly deliver the Party to the laps of the PNC for their own dividends. This dastardly plot has mortally wounded AFC members and followers but its greatest impact is that David Granger has enslaved the minds of the AFC Members of Parliament and they have become chattels of Congress Place. The most egregious breach of the Cummingsburg Accord is in its first element – Constitutional Reform: the introduction of a meaningful constitutional reform programme geared towards improved governance and fair representation. The coalition government has no genuine intention to carry out constitutional reform while it mints the weaknesses for its own benefit. President Granger basks in the omnipotence that the current constitution guarantees him. In light of its views as expressed above, AFC-Canada has unanimously passed the following resolutions: AFC-Canada requests the leadership and National Executive Committee of The Alliance For Change to: 1. Immediately and publically call upon President David Granger to rescind Justice (retired) James Patterson appointment as GECOM chairman and appoint an individual from the names submitted by the Opposition Leader. 2. Re-write the Cummingsburg Accord to give it due credence and legal enforceability with definitive time limits for its implementation. 3. Immediately commence the Constitutional Reform process and enact the reformed constitution before the next general election. Unless and until all these resolutions are complied with in full, AFC-Canada hereby gives notice that it has withdrawn its membership from, association with and support of the Alliance For Change Party. At this juncture, the AFC must assess its very survival and purpose of existence. It has no independent collective representation in Government and its support base is decimated. Continued association with the PNC will result in complete annihilation. The AFC members of Parliament must consider whether their personal aggrandizement is more important than the survival of the Party. Is it time to withdraw from the Coalition? We call upon AFC members and supporters in Guyana and the diaspora to hold the leaders of the Party accountable to the high ideals, morals and aspirations that the Party was founded upon. While AFC-Canada is no longer associated with The Alliance For Change Party or any other political party, for the time being, it will continue to support the Guyanese people’s quest and struggle for national unity, democracy, transparency, accountability and peace and progress. Laurence Williams – Secretary AFC-Canada October 27, 2017

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