The Alliance For Change’s (AFC) national executive committee will early next month decide whether it will contest the next general elections jointly with the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), even as it maintains that acceptance of its prime ministerial candidate is a non-negotiable.
“Ultimately, the executive will make that determination whether or not the AFC goes alone or whether or not it goes as a coalition,” AFC Chairman, Raphael Trotman told a news conference, adding that both parties see the value of a coalition and Guyanese are “not satisfied with seeing us separate and apart.”
AFC negotiator and executive member, Dominic Gaskin added that his party would, at next week Saturday’s meeting, have to make “some very clear decisions on how we plan to move ahead and how we plan to participate in the elections. “Our position is that we cannot have any further discussions on a revised Cummingsburg Accord until there is consensus on the positions of the presidential and prime ministerial candidates,” he added.
Specifically on whether the AFC would go into the elections with APNU if Granger names a prime ministerial candidate other than Ramjattan, Gaskin insisted that “it’s a non-negotiable for us”.
Gaskin says the AFC has already assured the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) that it is not interested in the presidency, in response to concerns that the prime minister will want to constitutionally accede to the presidency should President David Granger win the March, 2020 general elections but does not continue in office.
“We are interested in maintaining the prime ministerial position and the prerogative to name the prime ministerial candidate. We are not interested in the presidency. We have said that. We have given them verbal assurances. We have offered some suggestions as to how that can be incorporated in an agreement without clashing with the constitution but that’s the most that we can do,” he said.
Gaskin said APNU has not given the AFC a definitive response to that suggestion.
Asked whether the AFC was willing to give up a number of its parliamentary seats in exchange for APNU accepting Ramjattan as Granger’s running mate, he said there was no room for a trade-off.
The AFC negotiator ruled out ruling out replacing Ramjattan. “We don’t accept that any other entity or any other party shall tell us or dictate to us who we should choose as our prime ministerial candidate. We are an independent party. We have made a decision, we have made a choice. Why should we revisit that discussion? Why should we go back to our membership and say ‘let’s have another decision’?” he said.
Gaskin confirmed that negotiations for a revised political agreement, the Cummingsburg Accord, have ‘”stalled” due to a lack of consensus on accepting Ramjattan as the prime ministerial candidate.
The AFC’s national executive committee is scheduled to meet on November 2 to discuss the issue. Gaskin said APNU’s acceptance of the AFC’s prime ministerial nominee is a “non-negotiable” and “it is almost a prerequisite for us entering into a coalition”. He said the issue was repeatedly being deferred and no clear reasons were provided.
Gaskin, in response to President Granger saying that a political agreement could not trump Guyana’s constitution, said the AFC was not attempting to violate the supreme law. Instead, he restated that AFC and APNU should name the prime ministerial and presidential candidates respectively. “There is no clash or collision with the constitution in the Cummingsburg Accord stipulating that the AFC will name the prime ministerial candidate. We did it before. It worked. There were no complaints,” he said.