With just a few more weeks left before the deadline for the review of the agreement between the two major parties of the governing coalition, there seems to be no concrete plan for members to meet and discuss this process.
High ranking members of the Alliance For Change (AFC) do not appear to be prepared to meet with their partners in Government, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to discuss the long-awaited review of the Cummingsburg Accord.
Despite the AFC setting a deadline by February 14 to come up with a review plan, leader of the party, Raphael Trotman could not provide a definite time in which both parties could meet to start the discussion.
He told Guyana Times that, “The AFC continues to meet and discuss it and yes we will meet with them before the milestone date coming up, and we will have discussions. That’s all I can say at this point.”
This newspaper also spoke with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo at Parliament on Wednesday, who could not provide an answer on the matter either. Incidentally, Nagamootoo seemed unaware of any planned meetings. He said, “I think you will have to put that question to Leader of the AFC. I’m the elder, I advise. I don’t pronounce.”
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.
However, Trotman had committed to write to meet with the APNU to initiate discussions with regards to the revision of the Accord, which was signed before the last General and Regional Election.
But several months have passed and Trotman is yet to write the APNU. This was made clear by Secretary of APNU, Joseph Harmon, who said recently that to date, no correspondence was received.
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.
In one of his weekly columns, former House Speaker Ralph Ramkarran said the inability of the AFC to successfully push for constitutional reform, a platform on which the party campaigned, has seriously damaged its credibility; and in order to restore some of its integrity, the AFC must resign from Government.
He said the lack of success in this aspect would leave the party’s credibility in tatters, and its Members of Parliament (MPs) would be far more influential and respected for leaving the coalition Government. This move, he said, would put the AFC in a stronger position to demand that APNU fulfill its campaign promises.
Prior to joining hands with the APNU, the AFC was seen as the ‘third force’, the party of integrity, with support coming from across the ethnic divides.
“So when the party negotiated with APNU the Cummingsburg Accord in 2015 to contest the General Election, it was the support from the “Guyanese Indians” that enabled the APNU/AFC coalition to become successful, Ramkarran said.
President David Granger, who leads the APNU, said the AFC is within its right to request the review and noted that he is willing to facilitate discussions regarding this review process.
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 party named a Cummingsburg Accord Review Committee (CARC) of eight members – 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.
The AFC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has mandated the party leadership to formally write to APNU with regard to review and revision of the Cummingsburg Accord.
This process must be completed by the third anniversary of the signing of the Accord, February 14, 2018.