“Flimsy excuse” of PM not chairing Cabinet is power play attempt by APNU

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President David Granger and Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo
President and Prime Minister elect, David Granger (right) and Moses Nagamootoo.
President and Prime Minister elect, David Granger (right) and Moses Nagamootoo.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran is predicting trouble in the APNU+AFC coalition camp if it does not adhere to the terms set out in the Cummingsburg Accord, which the two parties signed upon joining forces.

In his weekly column, Ramkarran, also a former Executive Member of the People’s Progressive Party reminded that without the Alliance For Change (AFC), there would be no President David Granger.

One of the stipulations in the Cummingsburg Accord states that the Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo would be responsible for chairing the weekly Cabinet meetings; however since assuming office, President Granger has been chairing the session.

When questioned by the media recently, both Nagamootoo and Granger had stated that the Prime Minister cannot chair Cabinet because it is against the constitution and as such, the Cummingsburg Accord is under review.

Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran.
Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran.

But Ramkarran does not agree, pointing out that the Constitution provides for the Prime Minister to chair the Cabinet.

See below Ramkarran’s full column:

REVISING THE CUMMINGSBURG ACCORD

By Ralph Ramkarran     

 

Both APNU and the AFC appear anxious to amend the Cummingsburg Accord allegedly on the ground that the reality of political office has clashed with the Accord’s constitutionality. A series of interviews over the past two weeks given by President Granger and Prime Minister Nagamootoo suggest that a review of the Accord is underway.

The Cummingsburg Accord has two limbs. The first is the number of seats in parliament and ministries in government that each constituent party would be assigned. This apparently went off smoothly. The second limb provides for the more substantive core of the relationship between the parties, namely, the division of responsibility in the management of the government. The Prime Minister was expected to chair the Cabinet and be responsible for domestic affairs except national security while the President would be responsible for foreign affairs and national security.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has not been given the responsibilities of chairing the Cabinet or of exercising responsibility for domestic affairs. The contents of Minister Harmon’s regular engagements with the press suggest that domestic affairs reside with him and/or the President. In excusing the failure to observe the terms of the Accord, both President Granger and Prime Minister Nagamootoo indicate that there is no dispute arising from the failure to implement the Accord. They pointed to potential violation of the Constitution if the terms of the Accord are fully implemented.

There is and would be no violation of the Constitution if the terms of the Accord are implemented. Various articles of the Constitution allow the President to appoint others to execute his responsibilities. (See “The Cummingsburg Accord does not collide with the Constitution” by M. Maxwell in SN 24.06.15). The President can delegate the purely nominal function of chairing the Cabinet while he is present. The Prime Minister can take charge of domestic affairs in an advisory capacity to the President. The flimsy excuse of constitutional violation is an attempt at a power play by APNU. Supported by a surprisingly subservient AFC, it is not a good sign.

In any event, APNU and AFC are not free to amend the Accord. They are only two parties to the document. The electorate is the third party. It contains the basic terms of their post elections collaboration on the basis of which the electorate supported the coalition. The electorate understood that the AFC would have a distinct, decisive and visible management role in the affairs of governance through the Prime Minister. If the parties now wish to unilaterally tamper with this and consign the AFC, even with its unwise consent, to a vague and amorphous, consultative position, the parties should not be surprised if bitter fruits are harvested five years down the road from the same electorate, their third partner, that they have deceived. If that happens, this is where it would have all begun.

Having regard to the high turnout of voters, the percentage of votes obtained by the PPP/C, the votes received by the AFC in 2011 and the numbers at their meetings, there is no reason to suggest that the PNC obtained more than its usual forty one to forty two percent at the elections. The AFC therefore contributed eight to nine percent of the votes to the victory of the coalition. There could have been no coalition victory without the AFC. Five years from now there would be no coalition victory without the AFC, if the AFC loses its identity and individuality in the governance structure and operations, an individuality which it would never be able to retrieve as a political party with a distinct voice and appeal.

One of the major factors in the AFC sustaining its vote from 2011 was the maintenance of its independent character and campaign strategy, its promise of a fresh approach and youth empowerment. Had it been submerged under APNU, disaffected PPP and PNCR/APNU supporters would not have had the opportunity to identify with a political party other than APNU. Just as how the AFC attracted support by maintaining a clear and distinct presence and individuality in the election campaign, so it needs to maintain an independent political existence and defined authority within the coalition in order to sustain and even expand its support. The Cummingsburg Accord clearly intended to enable the AFC to do this. We do not know the reason that has caused the AFC to lose sight of these realities, or to appear so anxious to be willing to sacrifice the fundamental core of the Accord. This will prove to be its undoing and that of the coalition.

There is no doubt that President Granger is facing enormous pressures from within his own party. All the signs are there. But he has to lead from the front. He cannot succumb to the political culture of dominance spawned by a history of ethnic politics, which the coalition has promised to destroy by the very Accord that it now seeks to defang because it disallows the perpetuation of the culture. President Granger must inculcate in his supporters that APNU alone did not win the elections. They must understand that without the AFC there would have been no President Granger.

8 COMMENTS

  1. A bunch of numbskulls who stole the country from progress. What a shame coz all I can read about is the continued witch hunt …accusationswith no proof or merit..where is the progress??? What happene to all the promises you made to your foolish supporters?

  2. I would like to believe that the Prime Minister is much more than an after thought. I see him as a key component in an exercise of political unity that was long in coming. A very necessary exercise in the political maturation of our nation. As for Mr. Ramkarran in as much as his intentions maybe above board it still leaves enough room for suspicion. As these statements made by him can sow the seeds of discord. As was said before the document is in no way perfect and can be revisited if and when necessary. My hope is that the APNU/ AFC never loose sight of their original motivation. Getting the ppp off the necks of the Guyanese People, rescuing the country and displaying a force for Unity.

  3. Mr President and Prime Minister i do know you guys are conquerers in jesus name.Satan is a liar and he is defeated.Ignored the gossips,speculations and bad wishes,where there is unity there is strength.Long live APNU/AFC.

  4. don’t worry Naggy is very happy with his position this has nothing to do with the voters because all the attorney from both party and they did not see they would be violating the constitution when writing the accord and they are our NEW LEADER, hence the daily call everyday by Harmon for the PPP to take there place in parliament to give the government some form of legitimacy .. JUST A REMINDER TO NAGGY THE MAN THAT WEILD THE BIG STICK IS HARMON AND YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THE AFTER THOUGHT

  5. Well sir, if the coalition loses the next , then that is democracy at work. It would be good for you because you are a PPP member. It is good to have an opinion but i do not think that the APNU-AFC needs your advice. This myth that the voters understood the Accord and voted for the coalition is just that a myth. The fact of the matter is that the people were fed up with the PPP/c. Do you really think that the people care about the nuances of the accord? The people want food, a decent life, transparency and accountability. This accord was not written on a mountain top and given to Moses. It is a political semi-constitutional instrument written in about a month. The US constitution took 10 years to be written and is 200+ years old. It has 27 amendments and many more acts and proclamations. Even this week, the supreme court had to interpret the constitution. All political documents/ constitutions are living documents and are subject to amendments. You are throwing water on a duck’s back trying to cause decent. No one is stealing. It is a document that is slightly flawed like all documents. No one is God. If the AFC is not complaining, then what is your business other than trying to cause trouble. If the APNU-AFC does not produce for the people, then they must be put to pasture. It is called democracy.

  6. Esteemed sir, the new government will have to thrash out whatever they had not forseen to be practical. The reason for the coalition was to get rid of the PPP/C government.
    If the government falls in a deep hole because of power politics, then we, the voters, will kick them out and return the PPP/C to power, hopefully with you as their leader. Meanwhile, you, sir, still have a role to play as an elder statesman.

  7. Granger and Nagamootoo should provide a frontal and forceful response to the observations, questions and suspicions being hurled in the media, because to ignore them is to provide fuel for the brewing firestorm in the minds of supporters. Remember, this coalition is about the voters and not the politicians and their parties.

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