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AFC scraps ethnic formula for Presidential, Prime Ministerial candidates

Nigel Hughes and Moses Nagamootoo

The Alliance For Change (AFC) on Thursday said it has abandoned ethnic rotation as a formula to decide who should be its presidential candidate and has decided to rely on “meritocracy.”

“I want to make it quite clear, there was absolutely after 2011 no rotation principle on the basis of ethnicity or otherwise,” AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan told a news conference.

Ramjattan recalled that the rotation principle dated back to 2006 when Raphael Trotman was the presidential candidate and continued in 2011 when he became the presidential candidate.

He said that the ethnic formula was subsequently “altogether abandoned” at the AFC’s national conference shortly before the 2011 polls because experts had reasoned that ethnic commitments could deny very good persons from being top candidates. Ramjattan said it was also felt that himself and Trotman would have held on to the leadership and shut out anyone else.

Concerns have been raised in some quarters that that small opposition party has deviated from its promise after Ramjattan publicly endorsed Moses Nagamootoo and Nigel Hughes as presidential and prime ministerial candidates.

His endorsements are to be ratified by “popular democratic vote” at the AFC’s conference next month based solely on their merit. “The elections of our presidential and prime ministerial candidates now will be through a commitment that is going to be totally meritocratic rather than ethnic,” said the party leader.

Asked whether he has endorsed Nagamootoo to attract huge financial resources from the Diaspora, the AFC Leader said it was a combination of factors- the best for the country, ability to attract campaign financing, hardworking, intellectuals, knowledge of running a government.  “There are other considerations largely and so we put up this duo as being that duo who have the possibility of winning an election,” he said.