A decision taken by the Alliance for Change (AFC) Canada Chapter to pull out from the party mainly because of the recent unilateral appointment of Retired Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has now become a matter of serious contention.
In fact, AFC Chairman Khemraj Ramjattan and AFC General Secretary (GS) Marlon Williams have different opinions on the matter. While criticizing the move, Ramjattan told sections of the media on Tuesday that the party will not backpedal on the decision based on the opinion of one support group.
Ramjattan stated that the AFC is in the process of indicating to AFC-Canada reasons why they decided to throw their support behind the President to select someone for the GECOM post. He also made it clear that they do not plan to bend to the grouping’s demand for the AFC to denounce the appointment.
“Absolutely not. We have made our decision and our decision is grounded on a whole lot of political history and facts in relationship to why we did what we did,” he told sections of the media.
In a letter to the AFC, Secretary of AFC-Canada, Laurence Williams, expressed grave concerns about Justice Patterson’s appointment. Williams said his party’s group in Canada agreed that the AFC should publicly call for the appointment to be rescinded and for one of the 18 persons nominated to be appointed.
Williams also stated in that missive that AFC-Canada will no longer be associated with the AFC or any other party, for the time being. However, it said it would “continue to support the Guyanese people’s quest and struggle for national unity, democracy, transparency, accountability and peace and progress”.
But in a new twist, General Secretary, Marlon Williams, claimed that the letter was fake and does not represent the position of the AFC. Marlon also went on to state that several media entities had contacted him around midnight Tuesday to clarify whether the statement is true and whether the AFC will support such a call. He again reminded that the letter is fake.
The party’s General Secretary continued, “There is a process by which we do things and every statement has a channel that it passes through. All statements are sent to the party and approved by our Vice Chairperson Catherine Hughes and disseminated to the media by Imran Khan.”
However, AFC-Canada Secretary Williams told this media group on Tuesday that the missive is not fake and the content of the letter was decided on following a meeting with members. He went on to state that he was in communication with Ramjattan via email minutes before the statement was issued.
“Our meeting last Friday evening was well attended, with full capacity with the exception of few. We had a unanimous decision which we had to go public. We also informed the Leader (Trotman) and the Chairman (Ramjattan) of the AFC before we went to the press,” he explained.
Contact was also made with President of the AFC-Canada Tameshwar Lilmohan who also debunked claims made by the party’s General Secretary and said there is no such protocol where a support group like AFC-Canada cannot freely express its own opinion.
He said the political diaspora group has been in existence for over 10 years and has provided both financial and intellectual support to the AFC. He went as far to say that AFC-Canada has contributed over CAD$75,000 to assist the party in their political campaigns and other initiatives.
Lilmohan who is also a member of the AFC’s national Executive Committee said that the meeting unanimously passed the resolutions and also expressed disappointment with Ramjattan for rushing to make a statement, rejecting the proposal by the group without first giving it due consideration or having a meeting between the Executives of the party to discuss the matter in depth.
“It begs the question what respect have you for your supporters and members who have actually financed your catapulting into Parliament. If you are going to immediately on your feet fail to give due consideration to our request, then can you tell me what respect they have. I am asking for them to give due consideration to the matter and look at it in collaboration with other resolutions,” he added.
Other resolutions, referred to in the letter, are the need to rewrite the political agreement between the AFC and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to ensure legal enforceability with specific time limits for its implementation and the immediate commencement of Constitutional reform and the enactment of a reformed constitution before the next general election.
Concerns were also raised about the functioning of the Valentine’s Day 2015 Herdmanston Accord. AFC-Canada recommended that the party assess its very survival and purpose of existence because it has no independent collective representation in Government and its support base is decimated.
The group also called on all party members and supporters in Guyana and the diaspora to hold the leaders of the party accountable to the high ideals, morals and aspirations that the Party was founded upon.