WPA members mull for breakaway from coalition Govt

…cite disrespect, sidelining

The executives of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) may have found themselves proverbially between a rock and a hard place, as they have been receiving heavy pressure from members and supporters here and abroad to cut ties with the APNU (A Partnership for National Unity).

Executive members of the WPA at the party’s press conference on Monday

However, the party which claims to be the premiere unit that has been pushing for a government of national unity has said it is not even considering that suggestion at this time, although it feels highly sidelined by the People’s National Congress-led APNU. The PNC is a major stakeholder in the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
The Working People’s Alliance had, in 2011, joined forces with the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the Guyana Action Party (GAP) and the Justice for All Party (JFAP), among others, to form the A Partnership for National Unity coalition that contested the General and Regional elections of that year.
Six years down the line, after being successful at another shot at the elections, the WPA has said it feels shafted by the coalition Government.
WPA executive member Tacuma Ogunseye on Monday said there is no doubt the party and fellow members have been given second-class treatment by the major partner in the APNU coalition.
“We in the WPA believe that when you look at the way in which the relationship unfolded in the APNU, the WPA was effectively side-lined; there is no question about that. You may argue about why and so on, but we feel that any objective examination will be forced to come to that conclusion.”
The party’s top brass is scheduled to meet with other members of the APNU in July, and Ogunseye has said that meeting would provide WPA executives with answers to give their members on the way forward for the party. “There we will have a frank discussion with our partners, and use the opportunity to assess the way in which they respond to our concerns. And after that exercise, we will come back and decide on a line of action. But the approach of that meeting is to try to be (as) objective as possible, and try to enter the discourse with 100 per cent goodwill,” Ogunseye explained.
He said the meeting could have a very serious impact on the future of relations between the WPA and its partners.
And executive member Dr David Hinds has said there are a range of opinions in the WPA in regard to how the party should treat Government.
“It ranges from those who feel that we should disengage with Government immediately… We are confident that if we should hold a members’ meeting, there would be a strong opinion among our members for us to disengage from the Government,” he revealed.
He said the meeting with Government would inform the WPA executive what to tell the membership. He explained that the party has to manage all of the views within the party, especially since the WPA has come out of a different tradition from its partners.
According to him, the party has emerged from the radical traditions of the 1970s, when it always felt the need for a critical voice against government and authority.
“And so, therefore, the fact that we are part of Government in a sense creates a kind of contradiction that we have got to work through. We have got to balance support for the Government, but of course (retain) support for our tradition; which is one that questions power. He said the partners in the APNU coalition did not come from such a tradition, but have, in fact, been holders of power for the most part.
“So here we are, part of power, but also with the responsibility of questioning power; and so we have to balance that,” Hinds told reporters.
He said it has not been an easy task, especially since the party has always been championing the cause of coalition Government.
“So therefore, we have been the party of coalition, and so we do not want to be the party that kills a coalition,” he said as he noted that the party is trying to do the best that it can, but should not be disrespected or taken for granted.
Hinds make it clear that although the WPA might not have garnered many votes within the coalition, it had, over the years, been a critical player in shaping public opinion and ideas in Guyana.