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AFC wants to lead pro-democracy coalition including APNU, but Ramotar confident of regaining majority

AFC delegates and observers at the opening of that party’s delegates’ conference

The Alliance For Change (AFC) on Saturday announced that it was ready to “lead” a broad pro-democracy coalition including A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to remove the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) from government, but President Donald Ramotar expressed confidence of regaining a parliamentary majority.

AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan made the announcement in an address to his party’s delegates’ conference held at St. Stanislaus College auditorium, Brickdam. “On that score, then, hard decisions would have to be made and indeed the AFC is ready to enter, if necessary, into negotiations and to lead a pro-democracy alliance of progressive forces that is comprised of civic groups, workers’ unions, political forces- and by political forces here we are talking about even PPP members who have been disenchanted with the performance of the PPP thus far and even APNU,” he said to a loud round of applause.

Ramjattan has, in the past, maintained that his party would not coalesce with APNU, whose major constituent is the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) that had governed Guyana from 1964 to 1992.  The AFC, which has been tapping into the traditional East Indian support-base of the governing PPPC, has in the past reasoned that it wanted to preserve its identity as an alternative to both major parties.

afc khemraj confBut on Saturday, he sought to justify the shift towards engaging the APNU by arguing that there was need for collective patriotic action and cooperation of all Guyanese in undertaking the “herculean task” of voting out the ruling party. He said the time has come for a true government of national unity “one in which the politics of inclusion reigns over the politics of fear and division.”  The AFC leader, however, stressed that the AFC wants to “lead” such a movement. He used the “lead” at least four times in that context.  “We have the capacity to lead such a pro-democracy alliance because we feel at this stage the reform nature of the Alliance Force Change, its concepts on constitutional reform, governance issues and, of course, integrity in leaders that has emerged out of this party, it is so necessary that we lead in that process,” he said.

The AFC plans to continue wide-ranging national consultations to build a movement that is grounded in a shared vision of immediate and wholesome changes.  Any alliance with the groups and individuals mentioned, he said, would be based on agreed programme of an agreed programme of constitutional, economic, social and governance reforms. “Nothing less.”

However, President Ramotar exuded confidence that his party would once again control the 65-seat National Assembly where it emerged as a one-seat minority at the 2011 general and regional elections. “I have every confidence that the PPP would in the majority at the next election and we will not have this situation,” he said when asked by Caribbean News Desk.

Quizzed further about why he was so confident about securing a parliamentary majority at the 2015 polls, he argued that the majority status of the combined opposition in the House has been an “impediment in the development of our country and I think the Guyanese people are seeing that.”

“…because of our performance and the experience that the Guyanese people have had over this last three years,” he said when asked what makes him so confident of victory.

Chairman of the large opposition APNU, David Granger, has credited the combined opposition with ensuring that there is greater transparency and accountability by government in the National Assembly.