AFC says will prove it’s not dead
By Bibi Khatoon
The Alliance For Change (AFC) believes that contesting this year’s Local Government Elections (LGE) alone will destroy all claims at the party “is dead.”
At a press conference on Wednesday at the Parliament buildings, Georgetown, AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan noted that “a lot of you press people and also the columnists and the analysts have been indicating that the AFC is dead; well, this is but a great opportunity to prove otherwise.”
He added that the results of the local elections will “prove to the rest of the country that indeed the AFC matters.”
The AFC on Sunday announced that it will be going to the November 12th polls without its Coalition partners in APNU.
Leader of the Party, Raphael Trotman, on Wednesday confirmed that one of the areas of contention was the AFC’s request for candidacies to be allocated on a 60-40% with 60% being given to the larger APNU.
Asked if the party sees 40% as an ambitious request, Trotman said he believes the AFC has made its contribution to the Coalition Government.
Seated with other AFC Executives who are Ministers of Government, namely the Ministers of Telecommunications, Business, Infrastructure and Public Security, Trotman who holds responsibility for the Natural Resources sector, alluded to the party’s position in Government as having the impact needed.
He also noted that the 60-40% representation worked well at the level of the General and Regional elections and it would have been natural to go with what worked before.
The percentage share at the level of the General and Regional elections is provided for in the Cummingsburg Accord which was signed by the APNU+AFC on Valentine’s Day of 2015 when they formed the Coalition.
That agreement did not cater for Local Government Elections.
Following the 2016 LGE, the AFC had raised concerns about the limited amount of seats allocated to the party in areas won by the coalition.
Trotman said the AFC’s proposals were not outrightly rejected. Rather, he said, an agreement was not reached within a specified time.
“I don’t believe that the APNU is getting ready to kick us anywhere. I have seen no signs of that. We work well together at the national level,” he said.
AFC Executive Member David Patterson said the Coalition Accord has a maximum of 60 months before it comes to an end.
Other proposals made by the AFC to APNU included policies and principles and not only the issue of Candidates. One of the issues Patterson said was raised was the matter of parking meters in the city, something which the AFC had publicly disagreed with.
Better to go separate
The AFC believes that going to the local polls separately will benefit parties.
“We believe that going independently of each other will refresh and strengthen the Coalition for 2020. It will act as a kind of a primary system so that the people of Guyana will get the best of both parties,” Trotman said.
He acknowledged that being in Government will cause persons to become complacent and therefore this decision can only augur well for the Government.
Trotman said this process will be the start of the 2020 campaign as the governing parties will be in competition with each other but also in competing against the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
The AFC also hopes that from the results of the elections will affirm its worth in the Government.
Damage to the coalition
Since the announcement by the AFC on Sunday, questions have been raised about whether this is a sign of an impending split between the two parties.
The Leader of the AFC told the media that while there will be attempts to drive wedges between the two parties, “we are not here to pit ourselves against of the APNU.”
He also disclosed that during the Campaign, candidates will be given a code of conduct to ensure that the camaraderie remains at the level of the Government.
“We will be in competition with each other but in battle against the PPP,” he noted. This he said should also obtain for each party contesting the LGE.
On Monday, Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R), David Granger did not seem too bothered by the AFC’s stance and at the sidelines of an event on Monday said he respects the decision of the AFC and both parties are still committed to the coalition at the national level.
Areas to be contested
The AFC will be contesting the local elections in some of the stronghold areas of the People’s National Congress/Reform, the largest party in APNU. This includes Region Four and Georgetown.
“We will have a presence in every region but we intend to be strategic in terms of the where,” the AFC Leader said.
“We have always been a liberal party; we are prepared to associate with independents or other groups that don’t have to take on the mantle of the AFC banner over their shoulders…we want to bring a clean slate of candidates to the electorate,” Trotman told the media.
The AFC also assured that its candidates will not be targeted by APNU.
The AFC said it has become campaigning since 2017 for the upcoming LGE and is not short on candidates to contest the elections.
Local Government Elections was last held in 2016 after over two decades.