The Alliance For Change (AFC) duo that captured five parliamentary seats in 2006 were reunited yesterday with the election of party leader, Raphael Trotman as the prime ministerial candidate for the upcoming general elections, though now the positions are reversed.
Trotman’s elevation was widely expected following the withdrawal of senior party member Shelia Holder from the position due to illness. However, at a special meeting of the AFC’s National Executive Committee yesterday, party executive Cathy Hughes’s hat was also in the ring, albeit briefly, before she withdrew her candidacy and threw her support behind Trotman who was then elected unanimously.
Trotman along with the party’s presidential candidate, Khemraj Ramjattan will spearhead the AFC’s campaign leading up to general elections which are expected to be held before the end of the year. At the last general election in 2006, Trotman was the presidential candidate while Ramjattan was the prime ministerial candidate.
“We have much work to be done. I am committed to the entire process as I’ve have always been. I now have some more time and I’ve made things possible so that I can take up this appointment,” Trotman told a news conference shortly after his election. “We are going to be on the campaign trail in a very visible way in all parts of the country and even perhaps abroad,” he said, while thanking the party, its leaders and others for their support at a very critical juncture in the campaign and “as we face perhaps the most important elections Guyana will ever face.”
Trotman had declined the post last November due to personal and health reasons and under questioning by reporters, he said he decided to re-enter the political race because time has changed. He pointed to his medical concerns last year and said “perhaps miraculously” he has been given a clean bill of health. The time away also allowed him to do some introspection particularly with respect to his purpose for being in politics and as well, how he can better serve people, Trotman said. He also said that with Holder having done a lot for the party, he could not “allow it to just go.”
Trotman paid tribute to Holder for her “sterling efforts” stating that without her, the party would not be where it is today. Holder has brought the campaign to a point where he thought it was his duty to take up from where she left off, Trotman said. He also hailed Hughes and said that in her own right, she is entitled to be either presidential or prime ministerial candidate.
Hughes said that the process was exciting and she was happy and proud to be nominated and considered. “During the course of our deliberations… I did decide to withdraw my nomination and I decided that my contributions would be best served putting them behind the very, very capable Khemraj and Raphael who I’ve worked very, very closely with over the last six to seven years since this organization started,” she said. Hughes stated that she will play a more visible role in the campaign. The team is committed to bring real change to the way politics is done in Guyana, she said.
Meantime, in terms of finances, Ramjattan said that the AFC is largely financed by contributions from members and supporters. “As far as we’re aware nothing is illegitimate with them. They are all very legitimate businessmen in Guyana and outside of Guyana. Our diaspora, especially the New York/ New Jersey chapter, helps very substantially and we are, as the campaign has been moving on, getting more and more support from our members in Guyana and people who have means and are of substance helping us here in Guyana,” he said, adding that he will not name them.
Trotman said they are not about to disclose publicly what is going to be the AFC’s budget but they are in the race to win it. “We’re gonna fight with every dime, every cent…” he said. “We are doing well and we intend to do better in the days and week ahead.”
Meantime, it was stated that the leader of the list will have to be worked out. Trotman said that they are not going to fill the list with only party members but others whose ideology and vision are in line with the AFC.