AFC set for talks with APNU on local gov’t elections

Leaders of the Alliance for Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) will soon be meeting to discuss the terms of their going into local government elections later this year as a single unit, AFC Leader Raphael Trotman says.

Trotman yesterday told Stabroek News that while no formal meetings have been held as yet on the matter, he expects that the two sides would “meet soon”.

It was the AFC’s Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan who last week announced that a decision was made between the two parties to go into the 2018 Local Government Elections as a coalition and that a letter had been dispatched to President David Granger requesting a meeting to “thrash out matters” before campaigning begins.

Ramjattan yesterday said that he believes that today, at the AFC Management Committee Meeting, the party is expected to be given an update by the leader on the matter.  “I am aware we are supposed to meet [that is] the two leaders…we have a Management Committee Meeting on Monday,” he said.

In addition to their National Executive Council (NEC) meetings, the AFC has biweekly Management Committee Meetings with executives of the party where they discuss current issues and matters of concern pertaining to the party countrywide.

It was at their February 17th 2018 NEC Meeting that the party made a decision that it will go into the local government elections as a coalition. However, the party made clear that that prospect was hinged on the resolving of a number of issues at the municipal level and gave itself a March 31st 2018 deadline to have a resolution of the matters.

But the deadline passed and there has been silence from the AFC although APNU has long held the position that it was willing to engage the party if there are concerns and that it has its team ready.

Last year, the AFC’s members had mandated Trotman to write to APNU as it sought to discuss revising the terms of the Cummingsburg Accord before its February 14th anniversary.

The Cummingsburg Accord is a sunset agreement for 3 to 5 years. The three-year mark has been reached. One of the members 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 Cummings-burg 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 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.

However, that deadline passed without those discussions and the NEC meeting where another decision to have a letter written pertaining to the Local Government Elections was made, four days after.

It is unclear if the discussions scheduled for that review and proposals made will be incorporated into the currently proposed talks or if the party will limit the talks to this year’s LGE.

Ramjattan had explained that the “thrashing out” of issues currently was in relation to candidacies and disquiet raised among the party’s members especially relating to City Hall.

“We have seen an unfortunate development in the municipality, and we indicated that the attitude, especially of the town clerk, has left a lot of things bothering us,” he said in reference to the Georgetown municipality and its town clerk Royston King.

“We also intend to indicate to the APNU officials, what it is we are concerned about,” he had added.

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