AFC will remain independent – Gaskin

The Alliance for Change (AFC) will not be “swayed into a pre-election coalition with either the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) or A Party for National Unity (APNU), but remain independent, its Treasurer Dominic Gaskin said.

This declaration comes after the defection of several party members, both local and abroad, who party leader Khemraj Ramjattan said had issues with the way the AFC voted in the National Assembly recently.

At least one of the departed, who has since joined APNU has said that he believed the AFC should have continued to

Dominic Gaskin
Dominic Gaskin

oppose the Amalia Falls hydroelectric project-related bill and motion it supported on August 7.

But Gaskin, during a press conference yesterday, said, “We call on those same individuals to recognise and respect that the party was founded on the basis of a need for greater political options.”

Like many other party members before him, Gaskin said that the party’s decisions in the National Assembly are products of “earnest and honest deliberations,” in which the views of a wide cross-section of Guyanese are considered.

The party is convinced that this process yields worthwhile decisions and insisted that, “we will not sacrifice this independent approach to appease

a small but vociferous group of so-called political experts.”

Ramjattan added that the AFC will not “veer away into the lap of the APNU,” nor will it “veer away into the bosom of the PPP/ C.” He also continued to defend the AFC’s insistence in the setting up of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) before support is given to the Anti-Money Launder-ing and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill.

This position, he told reporters yesterday, will not be retracted unless the government begins to take steps towards the setting up of the commission. “Why,” Ramjattan asked, “can they not at least nominate their representatives to the commission?”

Ramjattan admitted that there may be negative implications stemming from the AFC’s position but he remained convinced that the position taken, if heeded by government, can lead to both the setting up of the PPC, as well as the passing of the Anti-Money Laundering bill.

While the AFC waits on the government to act on those matters, the party says it is in the final stages of completing several bills which it intends to bring to the National Assembly once the recess ends in October.

The pieces of legislation include the Intellectual Property Rights Bill, the Whistleblowers Bill, the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, and the Conflict of Interest Bill. In March the AFC and APNU voted against the Firearms (Amendment) Bill because it was tabled by Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee. Both parties have expressed their lack of confidence in the minister and attempted to have him removed from the House through a motion of no confidence.

In relation to the Whistleblowers Bill, Governance Advisor to the President Gail Teixeira has shared that government intends to create similar legislation. Ramjattan said that the AFC is ready to support the government’s legislation as long as its provisions are similar to what is reflected in the AFC’s version of the bill.

He also said that the AFC is willing to work with the government and APNU to ensure that the bills they intend to present are passed with consensus.

While lauding his party’s progress on the bills, Ramjattan bemoaned the inability to secure the services of a legal draftsman to assist with the preparation of the bills.

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