“AFC got more than it deserved” – WPA

Cummingsburg accord

By Samuel Sukhnandan

The Alliance For Change (AFC) stands to lose more than they would gain if they are to revise the Cummingsburg Accord that was struck between itself and the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Working People’s Alliance (WPA) Executive, Dr David Hinds has opined.
Dr Hinds, whose party is also part of the coalition Government, told Guyana Times that the “sweetheart deal” signed between the two parties on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015, is good in its current form, especially given that the AFC has in his opinion given a fair deal to form part of Government.

WPA Executive, Dr David Hinds

While declaring that there is no need to rush a renegotiation of the Accord, the WPA executive noted that these things by their very definition move at a slow pace. However, he said the question that must be asked is “What does the AFC want from a reconstituted Accord that it doesn’t already have?”
“Remember the AFC got more from the Accord than it duly deserved – it struck a hard bargain and got quite a lot. So, it would be conscious that it risks messing up a “good thing.” Once the Government becomes entrenched, there is less and less reason to upset the status quo – that is a reality,” he stated.
According to Dr Hinds, he thinks that the AFC is overly eager to touch the Accord and it would make little political sense to push for it, when the risks far outweigh the potential benefits.
The political analyst said the AFC’s attraction to some African Guyanese was its independence from the People’s National Congress (PNC) but a promise not the join with the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
“That changed in 2011 when African Guyanese returned to their traditional camp once the PNC joined with the WPA and others to form the APNU. It was then that some Indian Guyanese embraced the AFC with the understanding that the party would not join with the PNC,” he opined.
The birth of the APNU/AFC coalition, according to the WPA executive, was difficult for that section of the Indian Guyanese voters, but some of them kept faith with the AFC with the party’s promise that it would maintain its “identity” in the current coalition Government.
“That has proved to be a difficult undertaking. The AFC has had to make the difficult choice between coalition stability and party independence. And it has clearly come down on the side of the former. The political benefit to the party is that it remains in Government with a sizable chunk of Cabinet positions and parliamentary seats. The political cost is that it has lost its Indian Guyanese constituency,” he added.
President David Granger, who is the Leader of the APNU, has hinted that there is no immediate need for the Accord to be reviewed, although he has given his party’s commitment to going through the process.
“All I can say at this point in time is that there is no compulsion that the Accord be reviewed… (The AFC) can allow it to expire in 2020 or it can make request for a meeting but the A Partnership for National Unity is committed to coalition politics and I would say that the advent of the coalition into Government has been good for Guyana – we are better together and we would like to see the Accord continue,” Granger had stated.
Last month, AFC’s Leader Raphael Trotman told reporters at a press conference that the party has already identified a team that will represent their interest in talks with the APNU.
The Cummingsburg Accord Review Committee (CARC) has eight members which include Dr Vincent Adams, Dr Rohan Somar, Marlon Williams, David Patterson, Joel Edmond, Sherod Duncan and one representative each from the party’s Women for Change and Youth for Change.
In mid-November 2017, the top leadership of the AFC had decided to revise its governing agreement with coalition partner, APNU. This decision was taken after the AFC – the smaller of the two factions forming the Government – was accused of being coerced by its large partner.
There have been reports that the AFC was not too comfortable with the current Cummingsburg Accord which sets how the two coalition partners would divide up the Ministries.
Under the current configuration of Government, the AFC has received the portfolios of the Prime Minister, Public Security Ministry, Public Infrastructure Ministry, and the Agriculture Ministry, among others.
The AFC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has mandated that the party’s leadership formally write to APNU with regard to the review and revision of the Cummingsburg Accord.
Trotman had committed to doing so to initiate discussions with its coalition partner. But several months have passed and Trotman is yet to write the APNU. This process was expected to be completed by the third anniversary of the signing of the Accord, February 14, 2018.
The Cummingsburg Accord has a lifespan of a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years, and was focused primarily on the General and Regional Elections. As such, Granger said the AFC has several options, including allowing the agreement to proceed as is until its expiration in two years’ time.