Local Government Elections (LGE) are set for March 13, 2023. December 12, a few weeks from now, is Nomination Day. The AFC will not be present on Nomination Day. Last Sunday, quietly, the AFC issued a statement affirming what we all knew already – they will not be participating in LGE 2023. Not a single soul in our country is shocked. We all would have been shocked had they announced their participation. The fact is that the AFC are mortally afraid of LGE 2023. They are afraid that participation in LGE 2023 would be the funeral that Khemraj Ramjattan, their hapless leader, prophesied just before Valentine’s Day 2015, when he warned that should the AFC join with the PNC, they would become “dead meat”. The fact is they have had a Guinness Book of World Records’ longest-ever “wake”.
The AFC knows they would not win even a top-up seat, they would be decimated in every NDC and municipality in LGE 2023, if they ran. Their non-relevance would have been underlined in bold letters by the Guyanese citizens. This is the real reason the AFC has humiliatingly backed-off from LGE 2023. Residing in the AFC today is a group of persons who are so reviled by citizens that they cannot dare try holding even a community meeting. Their role in the disastrous APNU/AFC Government of 2015 to 2020 is bad enough. Their role in trying to rig the March 2, 2020 elections is even more reprehensible. Now their role in Parliament makes citizens scream out “lol”, and shake their heads in amazement and disgust. The fact is simple: the AFC have lost their relevance in the Guyanese political landscape, and have become a joke.
There have been many opportunities for the AFC to regain some dignity and rehabilitate themselves. Instead, with every action they take, with every crazy excuse they make, they further consolidate their non-relevance. They walked out of Parliament on a day when they could have contributed to moving the constitutional reform process. Two Mondays ago, the Attorney General introduced the Constitutional Reform Bill for its second reading. The AFC, like their other colleagues in the PNC, walked out of Parliament, and did not participate in the debate. The country is in an aggressive clean-up campaign that was initiated by President Irfaan Ali several months ago. Many citizens from all walks of life, including many who voted for APNU+AFC, have embraced this national mission. The AFC could have come out in their colours and, with their few supporters, the very few that remain, joined the national effort. This is not politics, but it is an avenue to demonstrate that your party is truly committed to national development. In the most important things happening in our country today, the AFC have chosen, stupidly and recklessly, to be missing in action – MIA.
For sure, the AFC executives face a mountain of a dilemma: decimation at the polls would merely confirm their “dead meat” status; not participating in the LGE makes them irrelevant. Neither choice is easy to stomach for any of their leaders, but there is no option for them at this time. Anyone familiar with Guyana’s politics knows that the PNC and the AFC have used the Voters’ List as their bogeyman. This is the same list that they contested with in 2011, 2015, and 2020. As long as they knew that they could have rigged the results in March 2020, they never once questioned the Voters’ List. The list became a false excuse only when they recognised that their rigging plan was too transparent, and that the whole world was watching them in total amazement. Once they realised they could not rig the results, they had to desperately find something to use as a rouse to stay in Government. An earlier excuse that Russians had come into the country to manipulate the elections’ results had been loudly laughed off by their own supporters. Incidentally, like their missing SoPs, the Russians are still nowhere in sight.
The AFC are not the only party that will not participate. All of the one-man or one-woman parties will find some weird reason to stay on the sidelines. The party with the biggest dilemma is Aubrey Norton’s PNC. Norton is the one most mortally afraid of LGE 2023. Staunch supporters of the PNC have conceded that the PPP would gain ground in the PNC traditional strongholds. Norton’s dilemma is “double-whammy”. He is mortally afraid that the PNC will take such an electoral “licking” that he personally would be the collateral loser. Norton is mortally afraid that LGE 2023 would confirm to the PNC membership that he is not the candidate that should lead them to the 2025 General and Regional Elections. On that basis, his decision is easy – no participation. But no participation means the PNC loses the few NDCs and the municipalities they now control. He is afraid that given a chance to take control of these NDCs and municipalities would further help people to see that the PPP is always the better choice for Guyana. Non-participation would mean the PNC become a small party. Participation means Norton loses leadership. He is between a rock and a hard place. Ramjattan’s prophesied “dead meat” status for the AFC now awaits PNC.