AFC warns against keeping executive presidency

The AFC has come out against President Bharrat Jagdeo’s recent endorsement of executive presidency, which it says “is outdated and counter-productive” to unity and development.

“No self-respecting leader, who has had the opportunity to observe and experience Guyana’s woes over the past two decades, since the executive presidency was foisted on our nation, should say that this aberration is “OK” as [it] is,” the party said in a statement on Wednesday.

Jagdeo, when questioned during a recent press conference on changes he would recommend to the post, said that there were no “major” changes he would propose, since the powers allow whoever is holding the position to be effective in office.

“There are things I think I would like to see [and] maybe I’ll talk to [PPP/C presidential candidate] Donald [Ramotar] about them. But I don’t see anything major because what we’ve done… we did the major thing, which was to limit people who sit in this job unlike any country in the Caribbean,” Jagdeo said.

However, in its statement, the AFC said that Jagdeo’s position was not surprising, given the tradition of the PPP. “It is not surprising that Jagdeo, coming from a political entity with dubious democratic traditions, and believing in the politburo-styled “Democratic Centralism,” would become fully inebriated with the enormous powers and unlimited immunities he has enjoyed, and we daresay, abused, over his term of presidency,” the AFC said.

“The AFC expects no different attitude and behaviour from PPP Candidate Donald Ramotar and calls on Guyanese everywhere to choose carefully and rationally at the upcoming elections whether they want to stay mired in a dictatorship, or they want liberation, freedom and an inclusive democracy,” it added, while suggesting that a vote for the PPP and Ramotar would give the country “more of Jagdeo.”

According to the AFC, the post of executive president “is outdated and counter-productive towards fostering harmonious ethnic relations and development.” It noted that representatives of the two main political parties have held this office for 12 years, and 18 years, respectively, and that “things have gone from bad to worse over time.” It further noted, “At various times during their periods in opposition, both parties have denounced this most un-West Indian and harmful model of managing our affairs.” The AFC also reiterated its call for separating the functions of the head of state (the president) and the prime minister.

The president, the party said, should be the guardian of the constitution, while the prime minister would be the head of the government and would be answerable to the people’s representatives in the National Assembly.

Pushing for a non-executive president, the AFC said that whoever holds this post should be someone of integrity who holds the confidence of the vast majority of Guyanese.

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