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AFC proposes secret talks accord with APNU on pro-democracy alliance

General Secretary of the Alliance For Change (AFC), David Patterson.

The Alliance For Change (AFC) on Saturday disclosed that it has handed A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) an agreement for the two organisations to hold secret talks on a proposed pro-democracy alliance but Opposition Leader, David Granger maintained that his coalition could not sign the accord without knowing the basis for the proposal.

“On the last meeting of the General Secretaries of both parties the AFC tabled a Non-Disclosure Agreement for the review and signing by the APNU, with the clear understanding that on the return of the signed document the AFC would release to APNU, our Draft Memorandum of Understanding which would form the template for our negotiations,” said AFC General Secretary, David Patterson in a statement.

According to that party, it is prepared to issue its draft Memorandum of Understanding to the APNU within 24 hours of receiving the signed Non-Disclosure document and to start negotiation within 48 hours thereafter which could be as early as Wednesday January 7, 2015.

The announcement by the AFC that it tabled a Non-Disclosure Agreement during meetings between the parties’ General Secretaries came one day after Granger said that those talks were merely about talks.

When contacted after the AFC’s disclosure, Granger acknowledged that APNU had received a Non-Disclosure Agreement, but it could not be signed unless his side knew the details of the pro-democracy alliance proposal. “We cannot commit ourselves to a course of action when we do not know what that course of action is,” he told Caribbean News Desk.

He maintained that the AFC was yet to table a document on the alliance. That party, which currently holds seven seats in the 65-seat National Assembly, wants to lead the pro-democracy movement that it hopes will include APNU, labour, civil society and individuals to oust the the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) from office at general elections widely expected later this year.

The AFC’s statement sought to dispel APNU’s claims that the two political organisations have not been having substantial engagements on the formation of the alliance.

At the same time, the AFC indicated that it was not waiting on the APNU but was continuing to hold talks with “serious-minded groups and individuals” and at the same time finalizing its campaign team and strategy as well as “subsequent structure and plan for government.”

The AFC signaled that Saturday’s statement would be the last time it would be talking about the APNU-AFC engagements “until there is a substantive announcement to be made.”

Patterson did not respond to a query about why the AFC preferred to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement although its ideals include openness, transparency and accountability.

The AFC’s announcement that it was willing to partner with APNU represents a major policy shift from its original position that to do so would be to alienate its supporters, many of whom have left the PPPC.