It’s Ramjattan as PM candidate or no Coalition – AFC
The Alliance for Change (AFC) on Thursday said Khemraj Ramjattan must be the Prime Ministerial Candidate or there will be no coalition with the multi-party APNU for the March 02, 2020 polls.
“We’re already on record as saying it’s a non-negotiable for us; it’s the basis on which we will enter into any coalition,” said Dominic Gaskin, who serves as the AFC’s Treasurer and a member of its negotiating team with APNU.
Gaskin announced that the AFC has withdrawn from talks with its governing coalition partner, saying it has been pushing back discussions on the selection of a Prime Ministerial Candidate.
“The AFC has advised APNU that it cannot proceed with any further discussions unless and until this matter is resolved,” Gaskin stated.
“The AFC finds it unacceptable that the matter of the Presidential and Prime Ministerial candidates has been repeatedly deferred,” he added.
In their Valentine’s Day agreement in 2015, the APNU+AFC agreed that APNU would choose a Presidential Candidate and the AFC the Prime Ministerial Candidate and they sealed that deal with the so-called Cummingsburg Accord.
The Accord still exists and the two teams are negotiating an enhanced agreement.
Gaskin said that the AFC’s prerogative to choose the Prime Ministerial Candidate was a prerequisite for entering in a Coalition with APNU and he was unclear “on what basis” APNU kept deferring the matter.
At its recent party conference, the AFC decided that it will replace Moses Nagamootoo and have current third Vice President Ramjattan as the Prime Ministerial Candidate, and there will be no change in that position.
“We have already made a decision…we don’t accept that any other entity or any other party shall tell us or dictate to us who we should choose as our Prime Ministerial candidate.
“We are an independent party; we have made a choice. Why should we revisit that decision?”
Gaskin was asked about the argument that it is the President’s constitutional duty to appoint a Prime Minister. Gaskin says he sees no clash with the constitution if there is an agreement before the elections on who the President will appoint. That’s what happened in 2015.
“We did it before, it worked, (there) were no complaints,” Gaskin declared.
Given the stalemate, the AFC’s National Executive Committee will meet on November 2 and Gaskin said “definitive” and “clear” decisions will have to be made on how the party proceeds ahead of the March 2020 elections.
Party Vice-Chairman Cathy Hughes in a statement trumped up the AFC’s success as a third party and said it did pursue one of its key pillars – constitutional reform – but did not get very far with it.
She said after the Prime Minister received a report from a committee he had convened to advise on the way forward “his further attempts were either obstructed or resisted.”
Hughes again resisted suggestions that the AFC is dead.
“The Alliance for Change is a party of principle, committed to fundamental transformation of Guyanese society, which includes healing and reconciliation, an end to racial voting, winner-takes-all politics and constitutional reform is a priority which we have preached since our formation in 2006,” she stated.
Party chairman Raphael Trotman says neither the AFC nor the APNU would like the results of the elections if they choose to go separate ways, but he is hoping for compromise, saying in negotiations there is always room for compromise.
At the moment, it is unclear how the deadlock between AFC and APNU will be broken.