APNU, AFC leaders give thumbs up to continuing with Cummingsburg Accord

From left are AFC Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan and APNU Chairman Joseph Harmon

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) have signalled their intention to go into the 2020 general elections once again as a coalition contending  that the Cummingsburg Accord, the basis for the coalition’s existence has worked, and will remain in place unless there are calls for changes to be made.   

“If it ain’t bruk, don’t fix it. It is not broken, it does not need fixing,” said AFC executive member and Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson of the coalition which took a separate path from APNU in the just-concluded local government elections.

Patterson’s sentiments resounded at the joint press conferences held on Friday by APNU and the AFC at Congress Place, Sophia when asked if the parties will be going into the elections jointly and who their presidential candidate will be. The Leader of APNU, President David Granger was undergoing treatment for cancer in Cuba at the time.

Over many months since the May 2015 general elections, members of the AFC have called for changes to the Cummingsburg Accord. After the 2016 local government elections, AFC members had complained that APNU had hogged the majority of the seats on local councils.  The AFC then attempted to secure an accord with APNU for the 2018 local government elections but was rebuffed because of its demands. It had to face the electorate on its own and suffered major defeats which analysts say has weakened its bargaining power.     

Chairman of the People National Congress Reform (PNCR), the main party in the APNU grouping, Volda Lawrence said, “We believe it is time the people unite. We believe that the people of this country have found favour in a coalition government. They have continued to show us their strong support. We will go strong into 2020 and we will be successful.”

From left are Carl Greenidge and PNCR Chairman, Volda Lawrence

In relation to their presidential candidate, Lawrence said, “We don’t hand pick people. We have a process, a process of clear democracy, where persons are given the opportunity to make choices. That will continue to prevail as we chose our presidential candidate, our candidate chosen will be fit and proper.”

AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan said that even though the AFC and APNU had different candidates in the LGE’s so as to give more choices of councilors to citizens in municipalities and local authorities, “We said it is a strong and united coalition government and that is also how it is also going to be for 2020.”

The coalition is frightening the leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, Ramjattan said, and it is causing Jagdeo to do all manner of shenanigans. “But rest assured there is going to be another coalition government in 2020.”

On the Cummingsburg Accord, First Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge said, it was an approach to governance that was crafted with all the parties of the coalition. 

The accord was crafted with a formula “with the longest longevity of any formula that has been crafted for coalitions – there was only one before,” he said, which at this point in time, has worked.

“There is no signal at this point in time from the parties that there is an intention to change, but there is also the capacity once the parties believe that the formula can be improved they can always call for each other to sit and look at it again. It is not something cast in stone.”

He added, “Until such time as the parties agree that they want to change, there is no need to be speculating as to whether or not you change it next year or the year after. The coalition works. It has worked because it has a number of sound pillars. The Cummingsburg Accord is one of them and we should appreciate the value of that accord.”             

At the start of the press conference, Greenidge and Nagamootoo read

statements reaffirming the coalition’s commitment to democracy and local governance and to empowering our citizens according to the constitution of Guyana to freely exercise their right to elect representatives of their choice to local area councils.

They committed to ensuring that the three levels of government – central, regional and local authority areas – through regular general and regional elections and local government elections complement each other, and that they work for the common good rather than against each other.

The major municipalities, Greenidge said, retained the support of the coalition partners and several victories were recorded in several NDCs.

Thanking the Guyana Elections Commission and its staff for its efficient supervision of the elections, he said, it validates GECOM’s capacity to hold free, fair and credible elections in Guyana.

Greenidge and Nagamootoo thanked all candidates who competed and voters for the peaceful manner in which voting took place.

Nagamootoo said it was now time to shed political partisanship, join hands and unite in working together for the development of all communities.  

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