A major Alliance For Change (AFC) financier, who has backed the party for years, has parted ways with the party to found a party of his own, citing Guyana’s economic woes and the business acumen he can contribute.
Pegasus Hotel owner Robert Badal has been behind the AFC since 2011 and actively campaigned with them during General and Regional Elections. He has, in turn, been appointed to head State boards, such as the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), when A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the AFC came to power.
But after reports abounded that he had split with the AFC and formed a new party alongside Nigel Hinds, Badal confirmed on Saturday that he had indeed parted ways with the party.
He noted the current economic woes caused by the inability of Government to lay out a comprehensive strategy.
“In the midst of abundant natural resources, our country remains among the poorest in the region in terms of per capita income. We remain stuck in time while other neighbouring countries continue to accelerate,” Badal said.
According to Badal, the State has “failed to address the challenges of the day and provide the opportunities for growth and economic upliftment of Guyanese, which has triggered spiralling crime, domestic violence, mass migration and utter hopelessness among our youths”.
He noted the business experience he and Hinds have, which, he said, would be put to work in the various sectors. He also promised accountability and transparency and noted that the party’s official launch is scheduled for October 29, 2019.
The defection of two of its prominent civil society members will not be welcome by the AFC, which is at a sensitive juncture as it is in negotiation with APNU on a revision of the Cummingsburg Accord and the selection of a Prime Ministerial candidate for the coalition.
AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan was elected as his party’s preferred Prime Ministerial candidate earlier this year, but members of APNU have shown a preference for the incumbent PM, Moses Nagamootoo. There have even been reports that APNU might ditch the formula altogether and choose a candidate from within its own ranks.
While Ramjattan has publicly expressed confidence that he will be picked, President David Granger himself earlier this month noted that he has not decided on his Public Security Minister as his running mate and had noted that it will have to be discussed.
The fact that AFC’s electoral returns have diminished over the years has also been repeatedly cited by analysts in arguing that the party’s standing in the coalition has weakened. At last year’s Local Government Elections (LGE), the AFC failed to win a single Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).
Prior to the General and Regional Elections of 2015, APNU and the AFC signed the Cummingsburg Accord that stipulated conditions for the two parties to contest the elections as one.
But throughout this marriage, the AFC was criticised, especially by the parliamentary Opposition, for what many describe as the submissive role it has been playing since joining forces with APNU.
Decisions such as the closure of sugar estates, putting thousands of sugar workers out of jobs have gone unchallenged and even been supported by the AFC. This is despite the fact that the Ministry of Agriculture is held by a party member, Noel Holder.
In addition, there has been the strategic re-allocation of responsibilities away from Ministries headed by AFC officials, to other Ministries. There is also the fact that despite the Cummingsburg Accord stipulating the Prime Minister, in this case Moses Nagamootoo, have responsibility for chairing Cabinet and domestic issues, this was not followed through.