Cummingsburg Accord less than desirable – Patterson
Its signing was instrumental in getting the Alliance For Change (AFC) and the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) into Central Government. But 23 months later, the agreement has been deemed “much less than desirable”.
This is according to former AFC General Secretary and Public Infrastructure Minster David Patterson, who said that the day-to-day administration of the Accord has been problematic, especially at the local level.
“The day-to-day administration of the Accord is much less than desirable. The interface between the coalition partners at all levels has not been the best. Although at the Cabinet and ministerial level, the working relations have been excellent, at the lower levels, it has not been so.”
Patterson noted that in order to contest the 2015 General and Regional elections, when the party leadership entered into discussions with APNU, some “tough patches” were experienced.
“But after long and hard negotiations, the Cummingsburg Accord was agreed and signed. The details of the Accord have been the subject of wide discourse, both in the party and the wide society,” he said.
Patterson lauded the performance of the AFC Ministers in Government, noting that they performed well in their respective portfolios. In fact, Patterson referred to his party as “the outstanding party within the coalition Government up to this point”.
“However, not every element of the Cummingsburg Accord has functioned as the framers intended and a number of issues have arisen that need to be addressed in an effort to enhance its effectiveness. The Accord has an initial lifespan of 36 months, ending in February 2018.”
“One of the main weaknesses of the Accord is the silence on the way in which the coalition would treat with the Local Government Elections. The coalition partners, despite some effort, were not able to reach an equitable political arrangement, which led to a less than satisfactory outcome for those elections.”
“Going forward, as of this conference, a better and sustainable mandatory set of inter-communication methods must be developed and executed to harmonise the work of the AFC, particularly at the party and community levels.”
That being said, Patterson went on to say that the AFC was committed to the coalition and where there are issues, they would be addressed. According to Patterson, these issues should be ventilated within the party, rather than in public because “it becomes fuel for our enemies”.
“This coalition is good for the country. Let us resolve any issues we have in a consultative manner, rather than in a publicly adversarial manner.”
There have been various criticisms of the Accord. The Accord had designated responsibilities, such as domestic affairs and chairing of the Cabinet to AFC executive, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
When this did not materialise, the Opposition had noted that Nagamootoo’s role was largely ceremonial. The PM has always insisted otherwise.
After the results of the AFC NEC were declared on Saturday, President David Granger had issued a congratulatory message to new AFC Leader Raphael Trotman. In the message, the Head of State recommitted to the Cummingsburg Accord.