… as party yet to clear $43M campaign debt …Trotman returns to head party
Alliance For Change (AFC) delegates on Saturday rejected incumbent leader Khemraj Ramjattan’s bid to be re-elected, instead choosing former leader and party co-founder Raphael Trotman.
The voting took place during the AFC’s fifth biennial National Executive Conference (NEC) at the Vreed-en-Hoop Primary School. When the dust settled, Trotman received 127 votes versus Ramjattan’s 125, thus being declared the winner.
News of Trotman’s election was greeted by congratulatory messages from President David Granger, who is currently in The Dominican Republic attending the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit.
Granger expressed enthusiasm in working with Trotman as the new leader and recommitted to the Cummingsburg Accord, which joins the AFC and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) together.
The Accord had designated responsibilities such as domestic affairs and chairing of Cabinet to AFC Executive and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo. When these things did not materialise, the Opposition had noted that Nagamootoo’s role was largely ceremonial. Nagamootoo has always insisted otherwise.
Meanwhile, after Trotman’s victory in the leadership race and Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes’ decision to withdraw, Ramjattan was declared Chairman of the party.
Hughes was declared Vice Chairperson, beating challenges from junior Indigenous People’s Affairs Minister Valerie Garrido-Lowe and Audwin Rutherford. With Hughes receiving 116 votes, her margin over Lowe – 76 votes and Rutherford – 47, was a gaping one.
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson was also defeated in his bid for re-election as General Secretary by Marlon Williams, who gained 125 votes versus Patterson’s 83. Michael Carrington, the third contender, received 12 votes.
There had been much contention about Ramjattan’s intent to accept nomination for the leadership of the party. Many observers, including persons affiliated with the party, had pointed out provisions in the AFC constitution prohibiting a leader from returning to a post for more than two terms.
Article 19 (1) of the AFC’s constitution provides for the rotation of leaders within the AFC “so as to ensure a broader activism in leadership positions by the membership”.
However, Ramjattan told reporters on Thursday that while the constitution was formulated to ensure the change of leadership was a necessity, it does not exclude those of whom might want to run for a third term or whom might be nominated to run.
“… that formulation was never done in identical terms to what the national Constitution says, which eliminated after two terms. We were two very good lawyers who formulated it in that way which extends but a desirability – that’s why the world “ought” was used and not “shall” or “must”,” he explained.
Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman, a co-founder of the party, had objected to the notion of one member holding the same position for more than two consecutive terms. In fact, Trotman, who helped to draft the party’s constitution, had asserted that the spirit of the constitution was to ensure that the leadership is constantly rotated.
However, Ramjattan posited that this will result in the entire hierarchy of the party being excluded from running.
According to Ramjattan, his reason behind accepting the nomination would be to create a precedent that indeed people can run for a third term if it is a necessity of the situation and the circumstances.
He had justified continuing for another term by pointing out that he was nominated by his party’s membership. He had also said he provided high quality leadership since he assumed the role in 2012. (Guyana Times)