AFC leader Raphael Trotman says he is not suffering from a life-threatening illness, and once he resolves “physical and spiritual health issues” he would be fully involved in the electoral campaign.
“I am looking forward, with great anticipation actually, to being involved in the campaign frontally and even behind the scenes by organising the party machinery and the base to do its work,” he told Stabroek News in an interview.
In a surprise move last Sunday, Trotman declined a nomination by his party’s executive to be its prime ministerial candidate. In announcing his decision, he cited health issues as well as personal issues. The announcement, which had been conveyed in advance to the executive of the party, fuelled conjecture that he was preparing to return to the fold of the main opposition PNCR or associate with a broad opposition coalition.
“It’s all speculation,” Trotman said. “I am the leader of the Alliance For Change. I left the PNC with a view of forming this party with others because I believe that our purpose is one of healing and reconciling. I do not see myself ever going back to the PNC and there are no such plans.” He emphasised that he would be working with the AFC to ensure that the best possible team of people goes forward.
He did, however, note that he believed that in order for reconciliation, it is important for all political parties to have better working relationships with each other.
He said the role of the AFC is not to destroy either the PNCR or the PPP; rather, it is to deliver them to a new place in the politics. “So to that extent, I think I have a role to play in the reconciliation in the political and racial issues in Guyana.”
Trotman confirmed that he was dealing with health issues and said while they were not life-threatening, they could become “serious” if left unattended. He said earlier in the year he felt tension and a light pain in his chest. “I’ve been told that cholesterol levels are high and there are signs of some strictures and that I need to manage those,” he explained. “I’ve also been given options, so, if those treatments don’t work, there is angioplasty,” he added.
He pointed to the recent death of Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson and said persons involved in high-stress jobs, whether it be politics or business or otherwise, have a responsibility to the people to take care of themselves. “And so this is a wake-up call for me to start taking better care of my health and it is being done,” he added.
He said he believed ensuring his “spiritual health” was of equal importance and he had started a process to bring himself into conformity with his Christian faith. Explaining his decision to reject the nomination to be the prime ministerial candidate, he told the party membership that the last few years had been difficult and challenging and he had found himself “digressing from many of the fundamental principles” he lived by and ought to lead by “both in my personal and public lives.” He said he had started “a process of personal transformation” intended to restore him in body, mind, and spirit. “…[I] believe that to do so I must be prepared to humble myself so as to ensure that a right spirit is restored in me,” he told the conference, while asking for forgiveness “from all those who I have hurt by my actions – including God, my family, friends, colleagues and the Guyanese people.”
He added that he believed a new paradigm and a re-alignment must begin within him and he must earn his place “not by selection, or automatically, but by public approbation,” which he said he intended to accomplish.
With his decision against accepting the nomination to be the prime ministerial candidate, the party executive nominated Holder, who was confirmed at the conference. Holder confirmed that she has indicated to Trotman that should his personal circumstances change she would be willing to provide the opportunity for him to be the prime ministerial candidate.
Trotman, who said Holder had been magnanimous in offering him the place, disclosed that he had requested that the decision be deferred for a few months but the executive said no, opting to name someone rather than appear fractured.
“The readiness is both physical and mental,” he said. “So, I do expect to be fully involved in the campaign and to be playing a critical role of bringing the party – because I’m still leader of the party – from an organisational point of view into a state of readiness to support the campaign thrust.”