AFC still to decide if it will contest local gov’t polls with APNU

With Local Government Elections (LGE) on the horizon the Alliance for Change (AFC) is still to decide whether they will compete as part of the governing coalition or attempt to resurrect their identity as an independent party by competing alone.

Speaking at the party’s first press conference for the year, party Leader Raphael Trotman said 2018 will see the AFC focusing its efforts on LGE and Constitutional Reform.

He noted that the party is prepared to host a series outreaches both to the general public and its members across the country. 

These outreaches will focus on “promoting the parties issues and receiving feedback”. In relation to the LGE outreaches, General Secretary Marlon Williams will headline.

“Organization is key and this is why we are staying in touch with our groups. We are going back down on the ground, identifying candidates and getting a sense of the issues and of course raising money. Those are the critical areas of the campaign,” Trotman explained.

Also critical is a renegotiation of the Cummingsburg Accord to address how the coalition will function during LGE.

The accord which cemented the foundation of the now governing APNU+AFC was signed on February 14, 2015. The AFC stressed yesterday that the accord which has a lifespan of three to five years “primarily dealt with the National and General elections which took place in May 2015 [and] is very silent on LGE.”

As such when the two parts of the coalition meet to renegotiate its terms the views of its party members on the functioning of the coalition at the local level will be part of the agenda.

“There is a strong body of feeling within the party that we should go it alone or another view is to seek to enter into a new accord for LGE,” Trotman said adding that the views of party leaders in and out of Guyana are being assessed after which the party will meet with the APNU and publicly announce their decisions.

Trotman noted that the main supporting argument for going alone is to maintain the identity of the party.

A negotiating team for the AFC has already been identified but no date for negotiation has been set.

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.

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.

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