Over one month since leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC) Raphael Trotman said that he would soon write to meet with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to discuss revising the terms of the Cummingsburg Accord before its February 14th anniversary, the correspondence is still to be sent.
“No we have not yet received any formal request from them,” Secretary of APNU and Minister of State Joseph Harmon told Stabroek News last Thursday when contacted. The Cummingsburg Accord formed the basis for the winning APNU+AFC ticket at the 2015 general elections.
In early December 2017, weeks after the AFC had held its National Executive Council meeting and mandated that its leader ask for a revision of the accord by February, Trotman said that he would have “soon” written to APNU.
“No letter has been written but one will be sent soon with the expectation that the parties to the coalition could discuss the accord and determine if it is to be renewed and extended, and if so, to agree ways of strengthening it for the future,” Trotman had told Stabroek News when contacted.
This newspaper tried getting Trotman last week but was told that he was out of the country.
The AFC request for a revision of the accord had come after the public battering it received over its support for the unilateral appointment of a GECOM chairman and the internal divisions that later erupted. Internal emails showed that party leaders Khemraj Ramjattan and Trotman advised President David Granger that he would be within his right to make a unilateral appointment of the Chairman. The AFC’s Canada wing later said it had severed ties with the party over the decision and there were also other scathing criticisms of its decision by figures from its US branch. The AFC has also been berated for failing to push for the constitutional reforms which it had pressed for and which were enshrined in the APNU+AFC manifesto.
The Cummingsburg Accord was signed for a minimum period of three years and a maximum of five years. But the AFC has also noted that it is a sunset pact which requires early review ahead of the upcoming polls.
At its NEC meeting in early November, members had stated that the two sides should meet to discuss it before the 3rd anniversary of the signing: February 14th.
Leader of the party’s Accord Review team, David Patterson, had explained that when the two sides meet, the demands of the AFC will include more structured inter-party communication.
He said that the party will also be going to the talks with other issues, such as their participation in the local government elections set for this year and the 2020 general and regional elections.
“One of the most important issues is the dialogue between the parties. It has to be more structured as part of communication,” Patterson said.
“The inter-party communication was not addressed in the original Cummingsburg Accord. It has to be addressed now. We want it formalized. Whatever construct the coalition agrees, it has to be a formal thing. The coalition needs to know a structure–both sides need to know when and where we will be meeting and how often and those things like that,” he further explained.
President Granger, who is the leader of APNU, has said that he welcomed the request by the AFC to have a review, as provided for.
“The AFC is entitled make their requests known …unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, there is a requirement to review the Accord after three years and that three years will expire after midnight on the 13th of February, 2018. So, it is within in the right of the AFC to request a review. I don’t have a problem with that,” Granger told reporters when the matter arose last year.