AFC unsure about support for Granger as Presidential candidate

With General and Regional Elections expected in the coming months, the minority party in the Coalition Government, Alliance For Change (AFC), has stated that it is too early for the party to say whether it would support President David Granger returning as presidential candidate for the impending polls.

AFC’s Vice Chairperson, Cathy Hughes

“We’re not there yet right now; we’re absolutely not there right now. We hope that President Granger continues the speedy recovery that he’s making… We continue to wish him the best, [but] we have no idea when the elections are going to be, and so we’re not in a position to answer that right now,” AFC’s Vice Chairperson Cathy Hughes told Guyana Times when asked whether the party would support Granger as the presidential candidate of the Coalition for the upcoming elections.
During a press conference held at the party’s head office in Kitty, Georgetown on Wednesday, AFC Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan reaffirmed the party’s commitment to the Cummingsburg Accord, adding that they will go into the next elections as a Coalition with the APNU, since this would have worked in the past.
On February 14, the APNU and AFC will celebrate their 4th anniversary since signing the “lovers’ deal” that eventual got them into office back in 2015. However, the AFC, in recent years, has come under fire for the submissive role it has been playing since joining forces with the APNU.
The minority party had even contested the November 2018 Local Government Elections (LGE) separately from the APNU after planned negotiations to craft another accord had fallen through. It suffered massive defeat at the hands of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party.
At Wednesday’s press conference, however, the AFC executives insisted that the minority party has done as much as it could have to stay relevant within the Coalition administration.

President David Granger

In fact, Hughes told reporters that the AFC came to the table of playing politics with a totally different perspective; that is, playing by the books. This, according to the party’s Vice Chair, is even moreso evident in the way it operates within the Coalition.
Nevertheless, the minority party remains confident that it can continue to push its agenda within Government despite the passage of a No-Confidence Resolution against the Coalition, which was supported by former AFC Member of Parliament Charrandas Persaud, whose vote in favour of the motion toppled the current administration.
No Confidence
Since the December 21, 2018 passage of the no confidence motion, several political commentators and stakeholders, including the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Opposition, have been calling on the APNU/AFC Government to call elections, which, according to Article 106 (7), should be held within three months. This means, elections should be held by March 21 this year. It was AFC member Charrandas Persaud who, on December 21, 2018, voted against the coalition in a move which has toppled Government after he broke ranks and voted in favour of the Opposition’s no-confidence resolution in what he described as a “conscience vote”.
However, the High Court has since been asked to pronounce on two matters regarding the resolution – one contesting the validity of Persaud’s vote, given his dual citizenship; and another challenging the 33-32 votes, instead of a 34 majority, that was used to pass the motion.
Those cases came up for hearing on Tuesday, and acting Chief Justice Roxane George has committed to a ruling by the end of this month.
Both Government and the Opposition have agreed to have the court expedite these proceedings as they await the outcomes to determine the way forward.
In fact, following a meeting with President Granger last week, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has stated that they have up until mid-April for the hosting of General and Regional elections, since the current list of electors which was used for the November Local government polls will expire thereafter.
As such, the former Head of State is pushing for elections to be held within this timeframe, noting that it is sufficient for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to be ready. He noted that the $3 billion that was budgeted for the elections body to conduct house-to-house registration can be directed towards the actual hosting of national elections, and if more money is needed, they can always go to the National Assembly for supplementary funds.

Fresh registration
But on Wednesday, Ramjattan argued that the monies allocated for the registration cannot be redirected when it was budgeted for a specific project. He insisted that the $3 billion be spent on fresh registration since the list needs to be sanitised.
“There are a lot of 15-year and 14-year-olds who will have to be included in the list, and a lot of dead people…who have to be removed,” the AFC Chairman said while reminding that GECOM had committed to fresh registration every seven years.
Nevertheless, Ramjattan pointed out that the AFC is ready for elections, should they be called.