Tomorrow’s Alliance for Change (AFC) National Executive Council (NEC) Meeting is expected by members to be fiery as they seek answers mostly from Party Leader Raphael Trotman on why they do not know the arrangements with their governing coalition partner, APNU for contesting upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE)
Several members have expressed concern at the failure of Trotman to deliver a letter of intent and understanding to APNU for a meeting which would have settled modalities for the LGE.
“It is expected to be heated because there are a number of things to discuss starting with why after we decided that a meeting was needed, at the highest level between the two sides, that Raphael still cannot say where we are,” an aggrieved executive member of the party told Stabroek News.
“The party said that it is going to the local government elections as a coalition but everyone seems to forget that comes with criteria. It is not just as if we going at it together. We are still very much divided because some, and I know I for one, don’t want to go as a coalition anyway,” the executive added.
AFC’s Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan had said in early April that a decision was made between the AFC and APNU to retain their coalition for the 2018 LGE and that a letter had been dispatched to President David Granger requesting a meeting to “thrash out matters” before campaigning begins.
In mid-April, Trotman had told this newspaper that while no formal meetings have been held as yet on the matter, he expects that the two sides would “meet soon”.
However, members say that to date they are nowhere closer than a month ago in knowing how soon the talks between the two sides would begin. The sources say that the agenda of the meeting tomorrow is crucial to determining the party’s position in forthcoming negotiations with APNU.
President Granger has acknowledged receipt of correspondence from the AFC but reasoned that he could not commit to a date for a meeting since his own APNU is a coalition and they have to consult. He has also welcomed the AFC decision to go to the polls in coalition with APNU and believes that the concerns of the AFC will be amicably resolved, making way for a unified APNU+AFC going into the LGE.
“I am happy to say that all six partners are committed to coalition politics. We expect that this is the face we will present to the electorate at [LGE] later this year- that is our objective and so it is just a matter of working out the modalities,” Granger had said on April 11th.
“I have to consult with five other parties and that consultation process has started and we have not engaged the AFC as yet, but we are aware of the comments made in the media about working together for Local Government Elections and we are still consulting with our partners to ensure that we come up with a way forward,” he added.
It was at their February 17th 2018 NEC Meeting that the AFC made a decision that it would 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 2015 Cummingsburg Accord that created the coalition before its February 14th anniversary but that deadline also passed without a word on why the letter was never written.
It is still unclear what the AFC’s internal governing structure is and why only the leader would be given the charge to write to the President or APNU.
One executive would only say, “We do have structure and we make decisions not by one person but by a body. It is why we have the NEC obviously.”
And while acknowledging that there has been division and heated debates on a decision to go to the LGE alone, one source pointed out that members will also have to first address their own internal wrangling before dealing with coalition issues. “The party has its own issues to deal with also. We come to the table, make decisions and then when everyone leaves it is back to square one until we meet again. No one is going to respect the party if that is our attitude towards each other and of our policies,” one source said.
“We have to discuss going to the polls alone … to know where we stand in this whole equation. If we go and we fail we know we have to pull up our socks and work. But we have been working in regions and I know we could win those places. Us going at it alone shows that we are still independent and still the party the people put there to watch the two sides (PNCR and PPP/C), to give that balance. I know I will be making my positions clear and there are many others like me…but even before we start with that we have to look at ourselves and really get serious about this thing,” another executive added.