AFC must resign from Gov’t to rebuild integrity – Ramkarran

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Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran is advising the smaller arm of the coalition government to resign if it wants to restore its credibility and regain support. He noted too that by being independent, the Party will have more power to bring down the government.

Ralph Ramkarran, former Speaker of the National Assembly

Ramkarran made the comments in his weekly blog ‘The Conversation Tree’ where he analyzed the political standing of the Alliance For Change (AFC) in light of the recent leaks of emails that, among other things, contradicted its leadership’s contention that it was not consulted about the appointment of the Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) by the President, David Granger.

“By resigning its ministries, the AFC will restore some of its credibility and perhaps support. The public will see that for the AFC, political office and the perks are of less importance than political principle; that the AFC is determined to ensure that its policy of the end of racial politics is implemented; and that the AFC is a party of integrity,” Ramkarran expressed in the online blog.

The seasoned politician explained that the AFC had gained tremendous credibility by pushing for constitutional reform but that integrity was eventually diminished following the lack of progress being made to achieve this.

“If the AFC has been pushing for constitutional reform and the government as a whole has been dragging its feet, the time has come for the AFC ministers to resign from the government. It cannot sustain its credibility while remaining ineffective in relation to the most important aspects of its platform,” Ramkarran stated.

He explained that as backbench Members of Parliament (MP), the Party will be far more influential and respected because at any time it would be able to bring down the government.

“It will then be in a far stronger position to make demands for fulfillment of coalition promises on constitutional reform and other matters,” he remarked.

The former speaker said the new relationship between APNU and the AFC, with the AFC out of the government but its members sitting on the back benches should be the subject of the new or amended accord, whether negotiated in the Cummingsburg Accord or elsewhere, which the AFC is proposing to have with APNU.

The AFC had requested a review of the Accord before its third anniversary with the APNU, however, President Granger contended that such a move can only be done after the anniversary which is February 14, 2018.

The AFC and the APNU have also disagreed on the recent appointment of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) member, Desmond Trotman as the new commissioner on the Elections Commission. The AFC wanted a more youthful person for the position, and according to the leaked emails, the Party had also opposed the appointment of the current House Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland on the same basis.

Rigged Elections

Meanwhile, Ramkarran shared his thoughts on the reignited fears of rigged elections. He noted that the AFC has shown a “palpable lack of understanding of the depth of fear of Guyanese Indians, and others, at the perpetual presence of the elephant in the political room” – which is the fear that APNU will rig the next elections.

“The unilateral appointment of a Chair for Gecom exacerbated that fear. And the AFC knows that they believe the evidence which caused the fear,” he stated.

Ramkarran made the following points:

First, APNU in its PNC form, has a history of election rigging from 1968 to 1985. Second, the PNC by itself has never won more than 42 percent of the vote in free and fair elections. Third, the AFC has lost substantial support and its contribution to the coalition at the next elections will be very modest. Fourth, this will keep the coalition below 50 percent. Fifth, in a two-party contest, the PPP will win. The answer? Rig! The AFC’s insensitivity to this scenario and its failure to persuade, or seek to persuade, the President to adopt a different approach to the appointment of the GECOM chair, has lost it substantial credibility.

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