As predicted, the Cummingsburg Accord has begun to unravel. The stout denials and pretences by the AFC leaders notwithstanding the serviceability of the half-way house type accord is now under tremendous stress and strain. The Accord describes itself thus: “A sunset agreement with a life span of a minimum of 36 months and a maximum of 60 months… It is accepted that these arrangements will govern the relationship of the participating parties in both the pre and post election periods for the duration of the eleventh Parliament.”
Recently, questions have been coming fast and furious about violations of the Accord, more specifically in respect of “shared executive responsibilities.” And the dispute has to do with what really are Nagamotoo’s responsibilities?
As far as the Accord is concerned the Prime Minister shall have responsibility for:
- a) domestic affairs and chairing cabinet;
- b) recommending ministerial appointments and providing the organisational structures of ministries for the approval of the President;
- c) appointing heads of agencies and non-constitutional commissions subject to the general and agreed democratic mechanisms of consultation;
- d) domestic security.
The hush-hush to make it appear as if all is well in the Kingdom of the Coalition will not stop the internal bleeding. The demise of the sweetheart deal is nigh. The signs are all there for those who have eyes to see.
In the wake of this situation two distinct approaches have emerged. On the one hand, the leaders in the AFC have adopted a defensive, ‘we love it’ posture, while on the other, those in the APNU have adopted a more aggressive and offensive posture true to military doctrine.
Bending to public pressure to defend their occupancy of the Cummingsburg half-way house the AFC suddenly announced that one of their fellows had been identified to be their watchman over their portion of the Cummingsburg property. However, as everybody knows all watchmen sleep, so while the other AFC leaders are intoxicated with the sweet, ecstatic taste of the May 11 power drink, these elite Guyanese graduates of the Washington-based National Defense University now ensconced at the larger portion of the property and who are usually adept at plotting and planning how to outfox the other side, in this case the AFC, who are part-owners of the Cummingsburg property, are ever alert.
And the way was opened up for this to happen when Mr Nagamootoo opened his mouth and claimed that a violation of a major clause in the property agreement “is a minor irritancy that should not be elevated to any importance.” He went on to blurt out: “I am not a negotiator. I didn’t negotiate the Cummingsburg Accord!”
This was a typical Nagamootoo somersault which in effect reduced the AFC from being part-owners of the Cummingsburg property to mere tenants in a room of the property. Enter the aspiring landlord. He frowns as he surveys the property he longs to possess as his own without let or hindrance.
After consulting his own ‘future notes’ the first thing he figured out was to serve notice on the AFC tenants. Thus, he boldly announced that the coalition is presently working on a review document. But he didn’t stop there, He went on to add that some things in the Accord are in collision with the constitution and that he could not be expected to do unconstitutional things. The door was effectively slammed tight on that matter by serving notice to the effect that chairing cabinet meetings was solely the President’s responsibility and not Mr Nagamootoo’s.
But matters had degenerated long before. Following his swearing-in Mr Nagamootoo answering journalists about his priorities, stated in a totally presumptuous manner: “I want to start on humbling the powers of the President and the excessive powers of the Executive…” Little did he realize that with his swearing-in as PM he was now a mere tenant and no longer a part-owner of the Cummingsburg property and that his priorities were misplaced.
It is interesting to note that in his speech inaugurating the 11th Parliament Mr Granger listed his priorities for constitutional reform but he never mentioned anything about “humbling the powers of the President nor the excessive powers of the Executive.” That must have been a slap on Mr Nagamootoo’s face. Instead of “humbling” Mr Granger’s powers, Mr Granger has in effect humbled Mr Nagamootoo’s and by extension the AFC’s.
Clement J Rohee
People’s Progressive Party