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AFC’s future hinges partly on local govt elections; March deadline to resolve issues with APNU

The National Executive Committee of the Alliance For Change that met on February 17, 2018.

As the Alliance For Change (AFC) prepares to lay down conditions for coalescing with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to contest the Local Government Elections, party sources on Sunday said if it vies alone that could determine its stake going into the 2020 general elections.

In an amended statement on the outcome of its first National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting for the year held on Saturday, that party said it would only contest the local polls, slated for the last quarter of 2018, if it reaches agreement with APNU on a number of issues.

“The Party will contest Local Government Elections in coalition with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), subject to the mutual resolution of a set of issues to be put forward by the AFC,” that party said in an amended statement issued by party Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan.

The AFC said its leader, Raphael Trotman has been mandated to write APNU’s Leader, David Granger, “stating the party’s position on these issues of concern.” According to the AFC, the “time frame for a resolution and an Agreement with APNU is the end of April 2018.”

Repeated efforts to contact Ramjattan on what are some of those issues proved futile, but other party insiders told Demerara Waves Online News said AFC wants a clear agreement on the number of candidates that would be allocated to both AFC and APNU, how the posts of mayor and deputy mayor will be assigned and campaign financing.

While AFC sources acknowledged that the statement leaves the door opened for that party to contest the local polls alone if no agreement is reached with APNU, the insiders said the party would risk showing an unimpressive numerical support strength that would be unhelpful in bargaining for candidates, parliamentary seats and ministerial positions for 2020.  “If you go out there and take a flogging, you will be humiliated for 2020 and in the 2020 elections you will likely come out with less because the Cummingsburg Accord will expire and you have nothing to go by after the elections so if you go out there and take a beating you will not be able to sell yourself any longer so it’s a nice opportunity for APNU to get rid of you,” he said.

Concerns have also been raised about sending mixed signals to the electorate if APNU and AFC are to contest separately, and the great likelihood of the AFC having to criticise APNU in some constituencies and supporting it in others. “If you go out individually and you do well, you still run a risk of fracturing yourself and APNU because to go out there and defend your position of going alone, you will have to do some amount of criticising of your coalition partner so a lot of animosities and tensions will be built up over the campaign,” one of the sources said.

With regards to the the 2015 agreement between the two political organisations, the AFC said recommendations from the AFC’s review of the Cummingsburg Accord would be pursued with APNU “with a view to strengthening and enforcing  the accord not just for Local Government Elections, but particularly for the 2020 General Elections which members saw as the bigger picture.  An AFC team was identified to discuss these areas with the APNU.”

Party sources said coming out of the AFC’s experience following the 2015 agreement, provisions should now be made for the appointment of AFC persons as Regional Executive Officers, diplomats and junior ministers.

The NEC, the second highest decision-making organ of the AFC, is responsible for making decisions for the party in between AFC biennial Conference.