APNU, AFC still to discuss PM candidacy for upcoming elections
– despite AFC choosing Ramjattan as its PM candidate
As Guyana prepares for General and Regional Elections in the coming months, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) have not discussed its prime ministerial candidate although Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan was selected to take up the post once the Government gets back into power.
This is according to Chief Whip of the APNU, Amna Ally, who during a press conference on Friday stated that the AFC is yet to officially communicate with the APNU as to who the AFC’s prime ministerial candidate.
“With regard to endorsing Minister Ramjattan, we have not received any formal request, notification or whatever…We are still about to engage the AFC for consultation to deal with Cummingsburg Accord among other matters that are important, and so maybe, maybe that is going to be one that will come up for discussion but at the moment we have no notification or no request from the AFC about a prime ministerial candidate.”
The last time the two parties were supposed to meet, she explained, discussions were expected to be focused on the Cummingsburg Accord. She is, however, convinced that the two sides will meet soon.
“There was supposed to be a meeting and that meeting did not come off but what I know is that the proposals were laid on the table. We have a team from the APNU side that is dealing with it and the AFC has a team. So, they are looking at the proposals and so on.”
When questioned about the AFC’s proposals, Ali stated that she would be unable to disclose such, since she is not privy to that information as yet.
“I am not part of that delegation that deals with the proposals. Mr Harmon and Ms Volda Lawrence are our representatives,” the PNCR General Secretary added.
Ramjattan as PM candidate non-negotiable
However, just last month, General Secretary of the AFC David Patterson had stated that neither the PNCR nor any other member of the APNU can dictate or direct the selection of AFC for that party’s prime ministerial post.
Patterson made those comments during one of his party’s press briefings and stated that the Cummingsburg Accord, which the AFC signed on to with the APNU, is still in existence, and as such, it is solely the responsibility of the AFC to choose its prime ministerial candidate for the upcoming elections in Guyana.
This Accord has expired but according to Patterson, “It is very clear that the AFC shall nominate the PM candidate and it is very clear that the APNU shall nominate the presidential candidate. I don’t see anything, I don’t know anything, there has not been any discussion and we would not entertain any discussion that changes that. And that is just the way it is”.
His remarks came in response to questions by the media about a recent statement made by Chairperson of the PNCR Volda Lawrence, who had noted that although the AFC has elected Khemraj Ramjattan to be its next prime ministerial candidate — replacing Moses Nagamootoo in June — the APNU and the AFC are yet to meet on this new development.
“The party welcomes the fact that the AFC party was able to have their conference and elect their new candidate for the Prime Ministerial position. The coalition and the AFC have not reached that stage in terms of discussion on the prime ministerial candidate,” Lawrence had noted.
In accordance with the Cummingsburg Accord between the two parties, AFC will have the Prime Ministerial position, while the presidential post goes to APNU. However, some believe that APNU would sidestep AFC and go the route of choosing a prime ministerial candidate from within its own grouping. The APNU alliance consists of five parties with the PNCR leading. The others are the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Justice for All Party (JFAP), National Front Alliance (NFA) and the Guyana Action Party (GAP).
Nevertheless, following the AFC’s National Executive Conference on June 15, the party’s newly elected General Secretary David Patterson had told reporters that Ramjattan’s nomination will have to be accepted by the majority of APNU.
“The Alliance for Change is a political party in its own right. The AFC has made a recommendation it will stick by. So just like we did in 2015, we will do in 2019 or 2020, if we stay in a coalition… If we’re in a coalition and we’re governed by an agreement and that agreement is currently in effect, it says the AFC shall nominate a prime ministerial candidate. There’s nowhere in that agreement that says we’ll nominate a prime ministerial candidate who the coalition accepts or not,” Patterson had stated.
PM Nagamootoo’s poor performance led to his ousting
While the APNU fraction of the coalition earlier this year had already signalled support for its leader David Granger to return as presidential candidate, it was reported that sections of the AFC’s delegation felt that incumbent Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s performance over the years has not been up to par.
However, earlier this year, AFC’s then leader and current Chairman, Raphael Trotman, had warned against replacing Nagamootoo, saying that it would undermine the coalition Government in the eyes of the people, by seeming to validate the Government’s failings and the passage of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM).
“The No-Confidence Motion was a direct challenge on the Granger-Nagamootoo leadership. In my view, if we were to jump to replace either gentlemen in an emotive way, we would be openly conceding that the motion and vote were justified and valid,” Trotman had stated in sections of the media back in February.
With the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) having already ruled that the No-Confidence Motion was validly passed against the coalition back in December, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is expected to provide a date as early as possible for elections to be held.