The historic initiative of the AFC to build national unity could pull us back from the brink

Dear Editor,

It is with some reluctance that I have decided to engage Mr. Hydar Ally after reading his letter captioned `The AFC has taken a big political gamble’ which appeared in the SN of February 27th.

Mr. Ally said that political analysts were of the view that the alliance with APNU could very well be the end of the AFC.

Well, Sir, for a political scientist you have taken too much liberty to pronounce the death sentence based on self-serving views of “political pundits”, all of whom I presume are “Chatrees”. I trust that you could find equally authoritative pronouncements by Dr. Cheddi (Joey) Jagan and Mr. Ralph Ramkarran, both of whom were PPP/C candidates in 2011, but who believe sincerely that a national coalition is the way to go.

May I remind you that you were a part of the PPP’s leadership when it decided to form a Coalition Government with the PNC during 1975-1977 (National Patriotic Front/Government) and again, in 1985.

Did Mr. Ally see a PPP/PNC merger, as Dr. Jagan wanted, as “political suicide”? What was it, Mr. Ally, “political opportunism”?

Cheddi Jagan never gave up on his quest for political alliances and inclusive governance. If it was good whilst he was alive, it cannot be bad now.

The truth of the matter is that Freedom House is both baffled by and jealous over the fact that such an alliance could be possible, and that the momentum in support of it objectively says that this is what Guyana was waiting for. PPP, sadly, missed the opportunity to forge unity even when common sense and political necessity had required it, after the 2011 election.

Mr. Ally knows only too well my own unyielding efforts in the PPP leadership to define and include in the party’s Political Programme the need for a State of National Democracy, which is a multi-party, multi-ethnic and multi-class state, to symbolize genuine people’s power. But the post-Jagan, pseudo-leaders never implemented this policy. It issued a diluted version that there would be a PPP-PNC coalition only after trust has been established between the parties.

Our unsavory, contemporary history shows how Jagan and Burnham became political opponents since 1955, when the “split” took place, which created PPP and PNC. It also created what unfortunately have become Indo and Afro Guyanese political tribes. Yet, in 1964 when Cheddi Jagan was Premier, he offered Burnham 50% of his Cabinet. There were talks about rotating the premiership.

By 1985 Cheddi Jagan was ready to work with Forbes Burnham as President, whilst he was to be Prime Minister. Had that PNC-PPP Coalition been realized, Dr. Jagan would have become President of Guyana at the death of Burnham in 1985. Jagan would have been President of a United Government, seven years earlier than he was, and perhaps the PPP would have been spared the Jagdeoite curse that descended upon it.

Mr. Ally says: “The Alliance for Change has taken a big political gamble…” Yes, there is nothing certain about political alliances, as the PPP’s own experiences have shown. During 1989-1990, the PPP sought merger in the Patriotic Coalition for Democracy (PCD) with WPA, PDM, DLM and a variety of political fringe groups. I was part of the PPP negotiating team with instructions to offer the motley grouping the Prime Minister portfolio, 50% of the cabinet and 50% of the electoral slate. The grouping rejected the offer, and demanded the presidency. The PCD talks collapsed.

However, the AFC was able to negotiate an honourable agreement with APNU in which it secured the Prime Minister portfolio, two Vice Presidents, and strategic ministries including Agriculture, Home Affairs and Public Works as well as the guarantee of a minimum of 12 seats in the National Assembly – win, lose or draw. On the basis of proportionality, the AFC secures a 40:60 formula for power sharing with APNU, which comprises five political parties.

The corrupt, minority PPP regime has placed our country at grave risk, and the historic initiative of the AFC to build national unity could pull us back from the brink.

As I told you, my friend, the PPP can stay on the sideline and gripe about the AFC-APNU alliance, or come on board the Freedom Train that leads towards ethnic healing and national reconciliation. If Sri Lanka can do it, after years of fighting, so can we!

Yours faithfully,
Moses V. Nagamootoo
AFC Vice-Chairman

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