‘I cannot allow people to usurp my authority to choose’ – Granger on PM candidate

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The uncertainty surrounding the selection of Alliance for Change (AFC) leader Khemraj Ramjattan as the prime ministerial candidate for the coalition has the minor party on edge, but according to President David Granger, he cannot allow anyone to usurp his power to pick either his running mate or his intended Cabinet.

Granger was at the time a guest on newly introduced podcast “Inside Source”. Asked about the tension between his A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and AFC, Granger played down the impasse but noted that talks are progressing.

Questioned about the AFC’s insistence that it should be allowed to choose its own candidate for PM since APNU was allowed to choose their presidential candidate, Granger said that they cannot agree on things outside what the agreement allows. Moreover, he pointed to his own duty to select the team he will run with for the elections.

“I am open to recommendations from all of my parties. And it is my duty to give the country the best team of Ministers. If we prejudice discussions by deciding beforehand, who should be [various Ministers], we’ll get bogged down,” Granger said.

He added that it has to be a careful nomination process. “Is this the best candidate? In every respect and ultimately, the Chief Executive has to make that decision. When the record of our coalition is written, people will speak about the Granger Administration. The buck stops at Granger. I cannot allow people to preempt or usurp my authority to select the best people for the Guyanese.”

The AFC had hinted that they could break away, but according to Granger, he is confident that they will return to the campaign trail as a coalition. The President noted that these negotiations are following a three-step outline that both sides agreed to.

“There is a three-stage process and both sides agreed to that process. The first stage is agreement on core principles and we have passed that stage successfully. The second stage is revision. This is not the time to speak about personalities. Now is the time to speak about principles and policies.”

He added that “once we agree on those principles and policies, the personality will fall into place. We have not discussed personalities, apart from the fact that I will be the presidential candidate. We have an agreement that should things hit a wall, the issues will be referred back to the respective party leaders. Nothing has been referred to me, indicating that there is a problem.”
AFC and APNU, which form the current coalition Government, were in talks over the revision of the Cummingsburg Accord so that they could contest the elections again as a coalition. The Accord, which binds the two parties, states that the presidential position will be filled by the APNU while the prime ministerial position would be filled by the AFC.
However, Treasurer of the AFC, Dominic Gaskin stated at a press conference on Thursday last that these negotiations have been stalled as the parties have since failed to reach a consensus on the prime ministerial candidate.

Vice Chair, Cathy Hughes also revealed, “The Alliance For Change is willing to work with anyone committed to the principles of constitutional reform and the creation of a more equitable Guyana where everyone has an equal opportunity.”

On Friday, one day after the AFC announced that talks regarding the coalition’s prime ministerial candidate have reached a stalemate, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) executive, Volda Lawrence said that the party is “unaware” of an impasse