I read with deep interest a report in KN’s February 7 edition, ‘APNU will remove all impediments to national unity -Harmon,’ in which Mr Harmon tries to discount race as merely just one factor in general elections, while preaching that the population has moved on to include other issues. This seems to imply his advocacy for an APNU-led coalition. Several writers, such as Sase Singh in the February 4 edition of SN; “Name Withheld” in the February 6 edition of KN; F Skinner in the February 9 edition of SN; and Emile Mervin in the February 10 edition of SN have all countered Mr Harmon’s naivety, and have made arguments for an AFC-led coalition.
Following the November 2011 elections, the AFC took a political risk on its own survival by pledging to support APNU to oppose the PPP in parliament. The risk paid off only because the AFC consistency placed a wedge between attempts by the PPP to buy out the ever susceptible APNU on several occasions. The AFC could have easily done the opposite, by supporting the PPP and trying to alter their corrupt ways. More credit would have been given to the AFC, which would have seen greater votes at this upcoming election, and the disappearance of APNU.
Little would have been achieved without AFC leadership on many issues in the current parliament; the mere fact we are going to an election on May 11, is predicated on an AFC-led no confidence motion. When APNU was twiddling its thumbs on the anti-money laundering (AML) legislation, being ambivalent about its support being conditional on local government elections then changing its position to include equally important constitutional requirements, such as the Public Procurement (PPC) Commission, the AFC was holding out from the outset that its support for the AML Bill was conditioned on the PPC.
The AFC gave yeoman support to APNU whilst in the opposition in the 11th Parliament, by voting to support them on numerous bills, and slicing the budget each year to prevent the excesses of the PPP. Without such support APNU, like its core party the PNCR, would have once again remained helpless, relegated to its perpetual incapability to do anything meaningful in its two decades in parliament.
Failure of the AFC-led coalition talks will only see APNU ceding some of its support to the AFC. And with AFC’s rising prominence, attracting even more votes from former PPP supporters, APNU will be further away from the majority. The PPP, based on the numers, would retain the presidency, and we are back to where we are at the moment.
Without an AFC-led coalition APNU will again try to fool its supporters into believing it will win a plurality in the next elections, as it has done for the last two decades. APNU continues to rely on its imagination that people have simply forgotten their past. APNU is this time again hoping to sneak in the back door through race-based politics, by again hoping another party, like the AFC, would break the back of the PPP and hand APNU victory on a platter. This is too high a gamble and until APNU gets this Guyana will not change.
As these other letter writers have posited, the PNC’s legacy still is a source of a certain level of distrust among Guyanese, and while this has changed over the years and Mr Granger and Mr Harmon both seem to be good gentlemen, the population is not yet quite ready to give them a blank cheque. People prefer putting them together with a level-headed party to see how they manage to operate with less power and egotism. This is the crux of the matter as to why people, not just Indians, but Africans and Amerindians, will not vote for an APNU-led coalition.
Instead of being proactive and having a greater say in an AFC-led coalition, APNU also knows should it not obtain the plurality, it would have placed itself in a position to benefit from better bargaining power with a weakened PPP and would rather form a national government with the PPP in the lead. This minimalistic reactive approach has always plagued the main opposition party.
However, all is not lost if an AFC-led coalition does not materialize. Less extreme than M Sookraj in the February 4 edition of SN who advocates APNU pulling out altogether, the other option is having both parties go separately into the elections but each choosing to contest only certain regions to allow for maximum voting (seats) impact.