AFC appoints “select team” to review party’s positioning in “evolving political atmosphere”

AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan

The Alliance For Change (AFC) has announced that it has appointed a select team to make recommendations to its National Executive Committee (NEC) regarding the best positioning of the party in the evolving political atmosphere.

The AFC made the announcement in a statement on Sunday evening following a meeting of the NEC, where it was also decided that the 2021 National Conference would be postponed owing to the growing number of COVID-19 cases being recorded.

“By a unanimous decision of the NEC, it was agreed that the National Conference would be deferred due to the runaway COVID situation, which shows no expected improvement in the immediate future. The NEC agreed to postpone the National Conference until a date after March 2022 at which time, it is hoped that the country is better able to manage the pandemic,” the statement read.

Additionally, the AFC said that its NEC was updated on attempts to resolve outstanding issues regarding the Cummingsburg Accord.

The AFC joined hands with the People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to contest the 2015 General and Regional Elections and the coalition subsequently won. The parties signed the Cummingsburg Accord, which outlined the parliamentary seats and ministerial portfolios for AFC and APNU members respectively.

However, the APNU led by former President David Granger has been continuously violating the Accord and sidelining the AFC. The party announced in 2020 after the APNU bullied its way to installing its own nominee for the Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Vice Chairman position, that it would be reviewing the Accord.

“The NEC was of the strong view that a fundamental breach of the Accord was committed; as such, a committee has been established to provide guidance and recommendations to the party on the continued effectiveness of the Accord as well as a review of the mechanisms to effect any future agreements,” it had said.

The Accord had stipulated that the AFC would get the Vice Chair positions in Regions Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Four. Indeed, it did get its own candidate elected to the Region Seven Vice Chairman position. However, following the election of APNU candidate, former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Captain Daniel Seeram as the Region Four Chairman, things went awry. The AFC had nominated Neilson McKenzie for the Region Four Vice Chairman position, APNU nominated Samuel Sandy and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) nominated Desmond Morian.

Voting was along party lines, as APNU and PPP/C cast their 14 votes each for their candidates and the AFC with its five votes backed McKenzie. Seeram then used his deciding vote as Chairman to elect Sandy, prompting the fallout.

Since it came into office after joining forces with APNU in 2015, the minority AFC has been criticised for the submissive role it has been playing to the abusive APNU. Decisions the former Government made, such as the closure of sugar estates, which put thousands of sugar workers out of jobs, were passed unchallenged and even supported by the AFC. This is despite the AFC retaining the Agriculture Ministry.

This passive relationship with APNU was cited by former AFC parliamentarian Charrandas Persaud, as one of the reasons he voted for the No-Confidence Motion that brought down the APNU/AFC Government in 2018.

In addition, there was the then Government’s strategic reallocation of responsibilities away from Ministries that were headed by AFC officials, to other Ministries. This included removing the oil and gas portfolios from then Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman and the citizenship portfolio from then Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan.

There is also the fact that despite the Cummingsburg Accord containing stipulations that should have seen former Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo being vested with the responsibility for chairing Cabinet and domestic issues, the then APNU Government never honoured this.

On December 24, 2019, after much back and forth between APNU and the AFC a revised Cummingsburg Accord was signed, but the full details were never released to the public. The revised Accord was to contest the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections which the APNU/AFC coalition lost but tried to rig.