APNU should learn from the PPP’s experiences in the PCD

Dear Editor,

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) finds laughable the AFC’s claim that it is “ready to lead a pro-democracy alliance of progressive forces against the PPP.”

Who are these “progressive forces”? Are they the same forces that voted against the Amaila Hydro-electric Project, the speciality Hospital, the new and expanded airport, the Marriott Hotel, the Amerindian Development Fund? Are they the forces who opposed the One Laptop Per Family, and the ‘Because We Care’ Cash Supplement?

This is clearly a rush into delusions of grandeur by the AFC which from all appearances has obviously been afflicted by red carpet fever.

It will be interesting to see who will join in such an alliance with a party which has already drawn up a ‘hit list’ comprising PPP leaders and which has announced openly its commitment to fire and jail corrupt PPP officials.

Who knows what the results of the elections will be?

The AFC, as if lost in illusions went on to brag that it will make “the elitist clan in the PPP face the music [and] not escape the fire.”

The AFC must know that fire can be a good servant but a bad master.

Moreover, the AFC’s statement to the effect that they would “destroy PPP strongholds” is symptomatic of the scorched earth military philosophy which the AFC seems to have adopted from the PNC. Now they are consummated as one!

In this connection, it is hardly likely that anyone else but the usual suspects will be rounded up to join in any such unholy alliance to ‘destroy’ the PPP.

It is perhaps a matter of coincidence that only a few days before the AFC made these public disclosures, Mr David Granger publicly stated that should his party come to power, he would “punish persons…who have been alleged to have committed illegal or criminal acts.”

What is obviously emerging from these ominous bleatings is a well-orchestrated and coordinated but vengeful agenda led by the political opposition.

The PPP has been attacked by the opposition in general and the APNU in particular for exposing the macabre nature of this agenda especially targeting certain leaders of the PPP and government officials.

The PPP is of the view that this vengeful political agenda formulated by the opposition runs counter to Guyanese political traditions and political culture and smacks of the politics of the malcontented practised in other jurisdictions, where the political culture differs fundamentally from what obtains here in Guyana.

Moreover, the expression of such political intentions is reminiscent of the McCarthyite period in the US and domestically, of the Burnhamite era with which Granger has been associated historically.

The PPP has noted with interest the initial comments by David Granger in connection with the AFC’s ‘leadership’ aspiration as being “premature” and “a bit presumptuous.”

On the question of leadership of and within alliances, the PPP has accumulated a wealth of experience as recently as prior to the 1992 elections in the context of the Patriotic Coalition for Democracy (PCD) alliance, which included five political parties namely, the People’s Progressive Party, the Working People’s Alliance, the Democratic Labour Movement, the People’s Democratic Movement and the National Democratic Front.

In that alliance, the question of leadership never arose; it was for all intents and purposes a collective leadership with collective decision-making and with collective action taken at all levels of the alliance.

Former President Desmond Hoyte on one occasion when the PCD wrote requesting a meeting with him to discuss electoral reforms, sought to be divisive by requesting in his response that the PCD “name its Leader” before he could agree to meeting with the alliance.

Later, when some in the PCD sought to push for a “consensus candidate” to lead a joint slate with a view to possibly contesting the 1992 elections, the parties in the PCD went into negotiation mode, not only amongst themselves, but with local external stakeholders.

From the very outset, Moses Bhagwan representing the WPA argued that the PPP should not contemplate having the consensus candidate because while it may have received forty-six per cent of the popular vote at the free and fair elections held in 1964, since then, its support would have dwindled.

Other arguments advanced by some stakeholders were that a Guyanese of East Indian extraction would not be acceptable to Afro-Guyanese, particularly those in the Disciplined Services and that a communist would be unacceptable to the business community and the ABC countries. The long and short of the extended negotiations was that Dr Jagan was unacceptable as a consensus candidate.

Faced with this situation, at one of the meetings between the PCD and the local stakeholders Dr Jagan announced that since he was found to be unacceptable, he was prepared to withdraw his nomination and proposed in his place Dr Roger Luncheon.

The response was astounding! Dr Jagan’s withdrawal was welcomed, but Dr Luncheon’s nomination to be the consensus candidate was rejected on the ground that “Luncheon is Black but Red…”

Negotiations in the PCD were taking place on another front; this had to do with a joint programmatic platform.

As convenor of the committee formulating the joint programme, the PPP proposed that the joint programme be made public, but this was opposed by other parties in the PCD. The programme never saw the light of day.

These two events contributed in no small way to the eventual demise of the PCD. Compounding the situation was the advent of the 1992 elections campaign when all the parties went their respective ways and with the PPP going to the polls for the first time as the PPP/Civic alliance.

 

These are rich and valuable experiences the PPP gained during that historic period.

For Mr Greenidge to complain that “the PPP’s view is that they are dealing with political inferiors or elections’ losers rather than porte-parole” and further that the PPP has “a perverse approach to negotiations” is not only highly inaccurate but incorrect, dismissive and misleading.

Mr Greenidge must know that he is not the only one in Guyana who was “afforded considerable and extensive exposure at the highest levels in the arena of negotiations” whether in Europe or North America. The PPP/C administration was active in five theatres of external negotiations at the WTO, the FTAA, ACP-EU, Canada-Caricom and Brazil-Caricom.

Clement Rohee held ministerial responsibility on behalf of Caricom for negotiations at the WTO and with the EU on sugar.

Mr Greenidge must take note of the PPP’s experience vis-à-vis the PCD. There are many lessons to be learnt, especially as the major political party in the proposed alliance which the AFC has already signalled its interest in leading, thus denying the APNU the role which its supporters would expect them to play.

Rather than beating up on the PPP and labelling the party as “lacking in negotiating skills” the APNU would be best served were it to learn from the PPP’s experiences within the PCD, our differences notwithstanding.

As for the AFC ‘bigging up itself’ to be the leader of a grand APNU-AFC alliance, this is nothing but an attempt to get out of the PNC-UF coalition-syndrome.   As the old folks would say, the AFC is beginning to ‘smell its own perspiration.’

 

Yours faithfully,

Clement J Rohee

General Secretary

Around the Web

Comments