AFC to miss its own deadline for Cummingsburg Accord review

Raphael Trotman

There will be no discussion on the revision of the Cummingsburg Accord between the Alliance for Change (AFC) and its coalition partner, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) before Wednesday’s third anniversary as mandated by members last year.

Instead, the AFC’s leader, Raphael Trotman, says that there is a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting scheduled for Saturday, February 17th, 2018 where members will again decide on the way forward pertaining to the revision of the accord.

“No, there will be no meeting before the 14th …We have an NEC meeting on the 17th [February 2018] and from there we decide on the way forward,” Trotman told Stabroek News when contacted.

The accord which cemented the foundation of the now governing APNU+AFC was signed on February 14, 2015.

Last November, the party held a similar NEC meeting and it was then that the members had mandated that their leader secure a revision of the accord by the February 14th anniversary. Trotman had said that the letter would have been sent “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.”

The party has not publicly stated the reason for the change but Trotman pointed out that Saturday’s meeting would guide the party on what a future meeting with APNU would entail.

He was quick to point out that the coalition has been “working very well” over the past two years and that like President David Granger, believes that together they are stronger.

The AFC last month stressed 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 (Local Government Elections)” and as such they are still to decide if they will go to this year’s regional elections by themselves.

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 also be a 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 had 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.

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 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.

For the APNU, its General Secretary Joseph Harmon has said that it has been on notice that AFC wants a review and will be willing to accommodate their governmental partner.

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.

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