The Alliance for Change (AFC) yesterday dismissed suggestions that its 40 percent seat allocation proposal to its governing coalition partner for the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) was too high and said that it is ready to prove itself.
“You have something currently that says 60/40 and naturally you would go with the paper that you have of that construct that is working,” Leader of the AFC Raphael Trotman told a press conference yesterday at public buildings when asked if he felt the party had made too hard of a demand to APNU.
“Did we bargain for more than we are entitled? I think if you look at the table…we have made our contribution to this coalition government and we don’t believe that we need to prove ourselves or neither do we believe that the APNU needs to prove itself to us. Each of us come alongside each other…and we do not believe that our 40 percent at the National Level is unearned,” he added while saying it was the natural thing to ask for the same at the LGE.
Following inconclusive talks with its governing coalition partner APNU, the AFC on Sunday announced that it would go to the November polls solo.
Going alone to the polls will be seen as a serious test for the AFC as many analysts have said that coalescing with APNU in 2015 and not being able to rein it in once in government has resulted in the party losing the support which had first propelled it to five seats in the 2006 general elections and seven seats in 2011. It currently holds 12 seats in Parliament following the Cummingsburg Accord with APNU in 2015 and had been hoping for a similar deal for the local government elections in November. However, APNU appeared to have balked at this and was not inclined to grant any more concessions to it.
Trotman was asked if he felt that APNU’s posture that they would go alone to polls was a sign that the AFC would eventually be kicked out of the coalition.
“From where we stand and not boasting, I don’t believe that the APNU is getting ready to kick us anywhere. I see no signs of that. We work well together at the national level. We have no intentions of kicking the APNU and I have seen nothing to discern that they will kick at us,” he asserted.
But he does believe that by going solo at the LGE, his party has to prove its worth to the other coalition partners. “I believe the AFC needs to prove itself to itself. I believe that it should prove itself to its partner; it’s only fair. We shouldn’t demand to the APNU in 2020 that we have a right to be there. We should be able to say, ‘This is what we bring’,” he said.
“We shouldn’t just say to the APNU that you have no choice but to go with us. We have to bring something to the table and this takes us there, and we should demonstrate to the people of Guyana that we have earned the right and their respect and trust to manage their affairs in 2020,” added.
And with the party’s plans to contest in all 10 regions, Trotman said that the voters and other citizenry would not only see the best of the AFC but also the APNU as they nonetheless intend to beat out the PPP. “We expect to be in competition against each other but we expect at the same time to be in battle against the PPP,” he said, adding that the party has the opportunity to refresh itself as sometimes being in government causes complacency.
Party Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan said “This is a great opportunity to prove otherwise and that is one of the best reasons in an elections prior to the general elections for going and we know… that we must be in a position to let the people out there know what it is and the relevance and all of that that we still have, as a party.”
“It must be appreciated that getting the institution of AFC more robust requires us to go into the trenches. A lot of you have been saying the AFC is dead. This is but a great opportunity to prove otherwise,” he added.
Campaign Manager David Patterson said that independent persons have also solicited help from the party in joining forces at the LGE and that AFC’s members have “dusted their war boots” and are ready to show what “an awesome elections machinery” they possess.
He believes that separating the LGE from central government is healthy for this country’s democracy.