APNU holds internal meeting, blanks one scheduled with AFC

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…decides to negotiate with AFC “in accordance with Constitution”

Despite the Alliance For Change (AFC) proclaiming last week that it would meet with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) on Monday, the larger party instead met with Chairman and President David Granger, where it took certain decisions on how to approach negotiations with AFC.

In a statement to the media, APNU revealed that a meeting was held with all the parties that make up the Partnership; the Guyana Action Party (GAP), the Justice For All Party (JFAP), the National Front Alliance (NFA), the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA).

“The Partners received a brief from the APNU negotiation team examining the Cummingsburg Accord. Following the brief, the partners examined several proposals and agreed on a post-election formula for the allocation of seats and recommended an approach for the continuation of negotiations with the AFC in accordance with the core principles already agreed.”

“The Partners further agreed and recommended that the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana will guide all future discussions. APNU remains committed to ending ‘winner-take-all’ politics in Guyana and to contesting the 2020 elections as a Coalition.”

Critical members of both sides, including AFC General Secretary David Patterson and executive Cathy Hughes, as well as PNC Chairperson Volda Lawrence, could not be reached for a comment despite numerous calls.

Last week, AFC had made known that if final talks with APNU fail, then the minority party in the governing coalition will be moving ahead with its March 2020 elections campaign on its own.

The two parties are currently revising the Cummingsburg Accord – the deal they signed to contest the 2015 General and Regional Elections, which they eventually won. After weeks of contentious negotiations, the APNU and AFC were expected to wrap up these discussions at a final meeting between the leaders on Monday.

“In the light of the tremendous progress made in completing the revised Cummingsburg Accord and the significant impact that the Accord is likely to have on the outcome of the upcoming General and Regional Elections, the AFC has agreed to a final meeting with APNU on Monday November 18, 2019, at which a single outstanding matter is to be resolved… and that has to do with a formula for the allocation of parliamentary positions, ministerial positions and RDC seats,” AFC executive Dominic Gaskin had stated.

The 2015 Accord had catered for the APNU to get 60 per cent while the AFC gets 40 per cent of the allotments in the three categories. Currently, the AFC has the Ministries of Agriculture, Business (and Tourism), Natural Resources, Public Infrastructure, and Public Telecommunication, as well as the Prime Ministerial post.

Whatever formula is agreed upon by the two leaders will determine the divisional proportion of the three categories for next year’s polls. However, Gaskin had expressed a belief that the coalition should keep the “winning formula” used for the 2015 elections.

“We think that that was a winning formula and we want to maintain that formula. Now having said that, this is a negotiation and we are not going into the room, saying ‘this is what we want’ and there is no discussion… We have not said that this particular formula is non-negotiable but as in any negotiation, once something is on the table, were we to deviate from that formula, the question would arise on what are we getting in return or what are we giving in return. That’s how negotiations are normally conducted.”

“So we are always flexible [and] we’ve been negotiating in good faith, looking for an outcome that is acceptable to both parties…and we have a fair idea of what is fair to the AFC,” the party Executive stated.

But even as the AFC was confident that Monday’s meeting would have been fruitful, the party had declared that it will be moving ahead without its coalition partner if those final talks were further delayed or failed.