‘They took a principled position’- Jagdeo says of AFC Canada Chapter withdrawing
By Ramona Luthi
Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday said that members of the Alliance For Change (AFC)-Canada Chapter took a “principled position,” by announcing that they were quitting the party over President David Granger’s controversial appointment of (Retd) Justice James Patterson as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
In a letter to the AFC on Tuesday, Secretary of AFC-Canada, Laurence Williams, expressed grave concerns about Justice Patterson’s appointment. Williams said his party’s group in Canada agreed that the AFC should publicly call for the appointment to be rescinded and for one of the 18 persons nominated to be appointed.
He also stated in that missive that AFC-Canada will no longer be associated with the AFC. However, it said it would “continue to support the Guyanese people’s quest and struggle for national unity, democracy, transparency, accountability and peace and progress”.
Other resolutions, referred to in the letter, are the need to rewrite the political agreement between the AFC and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to ensure legal enforceability with specific time limits for its implementation and the immediate commencement of constitutional reform and the enactment of a reformed constitution before the next general election.
In commenting on the matter during a media briefing on Wednesday, Jagdeo said that the ‘dishonesty’ of the party exists “right across the country” and many persons who were once associated with and voted for the Coalition in the last elections are now returning to the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP).
In a subsequent comment on Tuesday evening, in explaining the group’s decision to quit the AFC, President of the AFC-Canada Chapter Tameshwar Lilmohan said the political Diaspora group has been in existence for over 10 years and has provided both financial and intellectual support to the AFC.
Lilmohan, who is also a member of the AFC’s national Executive Committee, said the meeting unanimously passed the resolutions and also expressed disappointment with party leader Khemraj Ramjattan for rushing to make a statement rejecting the proposal by the group without first giving it due consideration or having a meeting between the executives of the party to discuss the matter in depth.
While criticizing the move, Ramjattan had said on Tuesday that the party will not backpedal on the decision based on the opinion of one support group.
Ramjattan stated further that the AFC is in the process of indicating to the AFC-Canada Chapter, reasons why they decided to throw their support behind the President to unilaterally select someone for the GECOM post. He also made it clear that they do not plan to bend to the grouping’s demand for the AFC to denounce the appointment.
“Absolutely not. We have made our decision and our decision is grounded on a whole lot of political history and facts in relationship to why we did what we did,” he told sections of the media.
Civil society including the business community, trade unions and the legal fraternity, among others, have come out in strong opposition and have slammed the decision taken by President Granger to unilaterally select a GECOM Chair.