Opposition APNU+AFC is weak, needs to step up – Attorney Selwyn Pieters

Attorney-at-law Selwyn Pieters
Attorney-at-law Selwyn Pieters

Prominent Guyanese-Canadian Attorney-at-Law, Selwyn Pieters said that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition needs to step up and be a stronger parliamentary Opposition that is able to hold the Government accountable.

During an appearance on a social media programme “In the Ring” hosted by APNU/AFC Member of Parliament Sherod Duncan, Pieters expressed the view that the coalition Opposition is not performing up to par.

“The Opposition needs to step itself up. I mean press conferences and that sort of stuff doesn’t really cut it,” he contended.
While noting that Joseph Harmon is a former client and a friend, the lawyer said he is not pleased with his work as the Leader of the Opposition.

“I’m not impressed with how he’s performing as a Leader of the Opposition. The Opposition is to keep Government accountable through Parliament and I’m not seeing it,” Pieters posited.

According to the Canada-based Guyanese attorney, who had participated in several major Commissions of Inquiry (CoIs) in Guyana and has been an activist on a plethora of social issues here, for the Government to perform effectively, there needs to be strong Opposition.

“The Opposition shouldn’t be weak… The [12th] Parliament is only a separation of two seats so the Opposition has to be strong. The Opposition has to perform well and the Opposition has to be responsible and sort of hold the Government to their promises to the people of Guyana…”

However, Pieters surmised that the APNU/AFC Opposition is unable to effectively perform due to the differences within the coalition and the two individual parties by themselves.

“I think what has been happening and what the perception is – even with your own people, the perception is that the Opposition is weak… I think what needs to happen is the Opposition needs to work within its sphere,” the prominent lawyer stressed.

Nevertheless, Pieters went on to outline that there is a lot of work that has to be done and the Opposition and Government need to find ways of working together for the betterment of the country.

L-R: President Dr Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon

In the same breath, the attorney pointed out that this cannot happen if the Opposition continues to refer to the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration as “illegal”.

“The Opposition, who has just left Government, cannot operate as though they are estranged from the Government of the day. From what I hear the posture is, you guys call them the “illegal Government”. They’re not an illegal Government, they’re the Government in power right now unless a court says that they’re not. And so it makes no sense not talking to them… If you call somebody illegal, and illegitimate and all that sort of stuff, you know, they may react in kind and not give you recognition even though that’s not a posture that should be taken,” the lawyer argued.

According to Pieters, who was an election observer at the contentious March 2, 2020 Elections and had spoken out against the blatant attempts to “frustrate” the tabulation process of the Region Four votes, it is time to move on.

“The Opposition APNU/AFC and the PPP/C have to engage in dialogue. We had five horrible months and some of us are still healing from it. I was getting death threats and kind of vitriols was spewed against me simply because I called things as I saw it.

People didn’t agree with that and I had to bury that and move on. I don’t hold any ill-feelings against people for what happened during those five months but we all have to move on from that. The APNU/AFC is in Opposition. The APNU/AFC will be well served by trying to build bridges with the supporters that left,” the attorney stressed.

To this end, he suggested that an independent interlocutor may be needed to bring the two sides to the drawing table to work on critical issues such as the pending top judicial appointments and the most pressing matter that requires all Guyanese to have a collective front – the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy.

On this note, Pieters lauded the PPP/C Government for retaining former Foreign Affairs Minister and Foreign Secretary under the coalition regime, Carl Greenidge, who is currently Guyana’s Agent leading the local team in the border case.

“There has to be a coming together in some way for the development of this country. Like how long will this [political] stalemate go on with just a small population of 750,000 people,” the Canada-based Guyanese asserted.

Moreover, the prominent attorney-at-law further cautioned the APNU/AFC against riling up its supporters, noting that there will be consequences for such actions.