Coalition partners yet to meet on impending elections
The two parties in the Governing coalition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) – are yet to meet despite the possibility of the country having to go to polls within a few months’ time.
Last month, AFC, the minority party in the coalition, elected Khemraj Ramjattan to be its next Prime Ministerial Candidate – replacing Moses Nagamootoo.
However, Volda Lawrence, the Chairwoman of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) – the largest party in the APNU alliance – said that the two parties 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,” she 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, there are some who 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 last, the party’s newly elected General Secretary David Patterson told reporters that Ramjattan’s nomination will have to be accepted by the majority 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.
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 delegations felt that incumbent Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s performance over the years has not been up to par.
However, prior to last month’s conference, 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, there is a possibility that early elections could be called this year.
In fact, the Trinidad-based regional Court is expected to hand down consequential orders on the way forward based on its June 18 rulings. This will be done when the matter is called up again on July 12. At the last hearing on June 24, the Court had given parties up to July 1 to make written submissions on the consequential orders not exceeding 20 pages, which would be considered before those orders are handed down next Friday.