If elected, the APNU/AFC coalition promises within its first 100 days to announce a date for Local Government Elections, free up the telecoms and ICT sectors and set up a constitution reform body and the Public Procurement Commission among other things.
“Within the first 100 days of the formation of a Government of National Unity a seven point programme will be implemented…,” Presidential Candidate of the coalition, David Granger, revealed in an exclusive interview with Stabroek News yesterday to discuss plans and priority areas for the populace.
On Saturday, APNU and the AFC announced at a joint press conference that they will contest the upcoming May 11th general elections as a coalition, with Granger and Moses Nagamootoo as its presidential and prime ministerial candidates, respectively.
The announcement brought to end weeks of negotiations with the signing of a document dubbed “The Cummingsburg Accord”, formalizing the pre-electoral alliance, which both sides are confident can unseat the incumbent PPP/C after 22 years in office.
The accord caters for a joint electoral slate and a 60/40 cabinet split, favouring APNU. They also agreed to reorganize the presidency to delegate more responsibilities to the Prime Minister as well as to select the representative of the electoral list and the Speaker of the House from independent members of civil society. The AFC will choose the Cabinet Secretary.
In the coming weeks, final decisions will be made on the coalition’s name, symbol, and who would secure the top seven constitutional spots.
Granger explained yesterday that the plans of the Accord include the areas that both parties had been seeking for years such as programmes for poverty alleviation, the reduction of the Value Added Tax, reduction of the Berbice Bridge toll and the establishment of a Public Procurement Commission (PPC) among others.
He stressed that the “100-day plan” which is enshrined in the Cummingsburg Accord would see the establishment of a constitutional reform committee with a mandate to complete consultations, draft amendments and present them to the National Assembly for approval within nine months.
In addition, the coalition government would announce the date for the holding of long-awaited local government elections, liberalise the telecommunications and ICT sectors and establish the PPC.
The coalition would also ensure that the amended Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act is implemented and adopt a long-term sustainable economic development plan aimed at realizing the vast potential of the country.
Granger said that in addition to the agreement signed between the two parties, the alliance will make a public commitment to address priority areas during its term in office such as a programme for the reconciliation of the people.
“These priority areas include a programme for healing and reconciliation and the introduction of a meaningful constitutional reform programme geared towards improved governance and their fair representation, the sustained improvement of crime prevention and the security environment, local government reforms and the holding of Local Government Elections,” he said.
“There is also the creation of a long-term economic development programme but this will be based on consultation and consensus. Then there is also implementing of a holistic youth programme because both of us know the importance of the development and value of our youths to the country’s growth,” he further added.
He said that the re-organisation of the education, health, sports and recreation sectors, for better service and outcome would yield great benefits for the nation and would add to their plan of youth development.
The political experience following the 2011 election has demonstrated the need for greater political cooperation in order to meet the expectations and aspirations of the electorate, he said.
“It is widely believed that considerable social, economic and other benefits would accrue to all Guyanese under an improved system of governance that allows for better representation and greater accountability,” Granger stressed.
He further stated: “We are proposing an alliance which would harness the energies and resources of the widest possible grouping of citizens and their representatives in an effort to generate maximum popular support for a platform of political changes to be undertaken by the next government,”.
Both the President and Prime Ministerial Candidates of the alliance told Stabroek News that they understand the challenges they will face dealing with the country’s race problem and they will work fervently to address and eliminate the scourge.
“I don’t know that Guyana has a race problem but it has a race situation and other countries have had race situations and they have mechanisms (to address it)…and we are confident that this government of national unity is one of the mechanisms that will address the race situation and stop making it a problem,” Granger stated.
It is as a result of their inclusionary democracy stance that both APNU and the AFC have agreed that members of the PPP/C can be invited to join the cabinet.
It was also announced that the coalition’s door “is fully open” to anyone who wants to come onboard and Granger trumpeted the end of winner-take-all politics in Guyana.
“…This is finished in Guyana and what we have done, what we are saying to you now and what I am saying to you is that if a partnership of this alliance wins 52% of the votes, we are not going to lock out 48% of the people. That is my promise to you,” he said, noting that the plan is to invite every stakeholder to be part of the inclusionary democracy, including the PPP/C.
Nagamootoo said that for too long race was used as a political tool to garner votes and said that his working alongside Granger was the first step in the plan to bring an end to racism and show the populace that Guyana can be an example to the ending of racism and the showing of racial harmony.
“I share the view that race is being exploited for narrow political and opportunistic reasons… working with Mr. Granger in a coalition after these elections would also send a signal that from now on that we have buried old hatchets in the country and this is about forging a healthy new alliance that can take us forward without having to be bogged down by racial polarisation or ethic polarisation, suspicions and insecurities”, Nagamootoo stated.