AFC decides to part ways with APNU next year

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PNC Leader Aubrey Norton and AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan

 

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC) Khemraj Ramjattan has announced that the party will be parting ways with the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) upon the expiry of the Cummingsburg Accord at the end of the year.

Ramjattan, who was recently re-elected Leader of the AFC, said the decision was taken at the party’s recently-concluded National Executive Conference (NEC).

He explained that the AFC would only consider entering into a new coalition with the APNU closer to the next General and Regional Elections due in 2025.

“The decision on whether we should remain was, in a sense, decided at this National Conference,” he noted during a recent programme hosted on GlobeSpan.

“We have the Way Forward document that was given to every delegate in our conference…In this document, which we did about eight months ago, was to argue the case at the NEC, what are the pros and cons and what we should do,” Ramjattan explained.

He said three options were decided upon.

“One, to stay as is with the Cummingsburg Accord…another, to exit immediately at this National Conference…and/or to allow the Cummingsburg Accord to come to an end…,” he noted.

Ramjattan said the party ultimately decided on the latter option.

“It is the 31st of December this year that the Cummingsburg Accord comes to an end and then we maintain our independence and go hit the ground running, have good relationship with the APNU, have good relationship with the PPP, criticise them whenever we have to…and maintain an independent position,” Ramjattan revealed.

“And if it comes to that, whenever that is ready, another accord, more closely to an elections time, but that will depend on another National Conference to make that decision,” he added.

He reiterated, “effectively, we are in a Cummingsburg Accord period at this time until the 31st of December 2022. After that, as the party has now decided, we go separate to the extent of having an AFC doing its work all across the country separately and then, whenever that time comes, we can then make the decision [to re-join].”

Whenever that choice is made, Ramjattan pointed out, it will have to be collectively decided upon by the NEC.

“It will not be the decision of Ramjattan…I love coalition politics now having entered it, but it got a lot of people who feel we should maintain our independence and let there be a three party…just as we did in 2006, 2011,” he noted.

The AFC’s next NEC is due for late 2024 or early 2025, the party leader said.

While the AFC had announced its decision to remain in the coalition with APNU until the expiry of the Cummingsburg Accord in December, no definitive position was shared regarding the party’s way forward until now.

Initial reports were that the AFC decided to stay in “a revised political alliance with APNU, whether coalition or a parliamentary cooperation agreement but the AFC must demand and secure a firm agreement and structure for it to have a greater influence on policy positions and political action within the alliance while maintaining its independence and rebranding and regaining its identity.”

The AFC had joined hands with the 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, APNU, led by former President David Granger, had been accused of continuously violating the accord.

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.

Following the AFC’s recent NEC, the APNU issued a statement whereby it expressed satisfaction that the smaller party decided to stay in the coalition. It had added that the AFC’s decision to remain in the coalition will “add impetus” to the parties’ “joint efforts” to win the next national election.