AFC executive to back Ramjattan as presidential candidate

The Alliance For Change’s (AFC) National Executive Committee (NEC) will recommend that Khemraj Ramjattan become its presidential candidate at the party’s National Conference in October.

Khemraj Ramjattan

AFC Vice-Chairperson Sheila Holder yesterday said that the NEC would also recommend that party leader Raphael Trotman become the prime ministerial candidate, along with any other person who has been properly nominated in keeping with the party’s constitution. The party also stated that in order to give effect to the decision, Trotman would endorse Ramjattan as the presidential candidate and Ramjattan would endorse Trotman as the prime ministerial candidate.

Holder told a news conference that at the last meeting of the NEC, it reaffirmed its commitment to the principle of the rotation of the presidential and prime ministerial candidates. “Our Constitution requires the party’s national conference to confirm and ratify the presidential and prime ministerial candidates of the party and also permits any member of the party, in good standing, to be offered as a nominee for presidential candidate by any of the party groups,” she explained.

Trotman said too that at its launch the party had said that should it win the elections,

Raphael Trotman

it would rotate the presidency mid-term. He said implicit in that commitment was the understanding of the populace that the rotation principle would not apply only to the presidential seat but also to candidacy. “And so, in keeping with what the populace expected, the executive has sought to follow suit,” he said. Holder added that when the party launched, it was a steering committee. Since then, she explained, internal elections and the development of a Constitution had left people confused to a certain extent. “The Constitution, in fact, negated what might have prevailed when we were a non-constituted body,” she added.

There has been strong disagreement within the party over the retention of the rotation principle and about whether Ramjattan would be endorsed as the presidential candidate for next year’s election in the light of support for Trotman as candidate by some quarters. In the wake of the situation there have been reports in the state media indicating that Ramjattan and his supporters were unhappy with the outcome of the recent executive meeting and threatened to leave.

However, Trotman said their presence at the news conference was a demonstration that the party’s leaders were standing together in solidarity.

Sheila Holder

Meanwhile, Ramjattan said the party would “live” its principles and he noted that it is important to get its house in order before approaching electoral alliances. He denied reports in the Guyana Chronicle which suggested that he was seeking to return to the PPP and that he was left out of the loop by the party during recent consultations held by Barbadian strategist Hartley Henry. “It is not true,” he emphasised. “It is part of this conspiracy and this propaganda of the state media and especially the People’s Progressive Party, which has obviously gotten very nervous of recent times,” he explained. He added that it was part of a scheme to divide him and Trotman.

A newspaper advertisement, purportedly paid for by “Concerned AFC Members,” appeared in yesterday’s Kaieteur News, calling for the rotation of the AFC leadership. It said the AFC was never intended “to sideline any particular group inside or outside the party” and that Ramjattan is a “deserving leader with equal intellect, courage and skills” as Trotman. It said rotation would deliver on the party’s promise of “change” to the people. In response to the ad, Holder said that its reference to the rotation of the leadership suggests that a party person was not behind it. She further suggested that it was part of the “government propaganda” that has sprouted in recent weeks within the state media. “The issue has never been about the rotation of the leadership,” she said, while noting that the party’s Constitution is specific with respect to term limits. “The issue as we understand it is about the rotation of presidential and prime-ministerial candidates.”

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