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AFC won’t lose support if coalesces with APNU

AFC Chairman, Moses Nagamootoo.

The Alliance For Change (AFC) on Thursday dismissed suggestions that it could lose the 11 percent it garnered at the 2011 general and regional elections if it coalesces with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) for fresh polls due in another three months.

Chances of the AFC losing votes comes against the background of negotiations with APNU that multiple sources have said include a rotating presidency between Afro Guyanese David Granger and Nagamootoo, an Indo Guyanese.

The AFC does not believe there will be heavy racial voting at the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections in which the incumbent Indo Guyanese-backed People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) would paint a combined opposition as “PNC” (People’s National Congress Reform) whose rule from 1964 to 1992 had been characterized by political and human rights abuses. Nagamootoo, a former long-serving senior PPP member, recalled that party’s late leader, Dr. Cheddi Jagan and then PNC Leader Forbes Burnham had held unity talks up to 1985 when the latter died.  

“You couldn’t say it was good when Jagan pursued merger talks between PPP and PNC and it is bad if AFC decide thirty years after Burnham died to create a coalition with a larger grouping. I don’t think they will succeed. I think is an exercise in futility,” he said.

He rejected suggestions that the AFC was appealing only to East Indians.  

Nagamootoo denied a report in the Thursday edition of the PPPC-aligned Guyana Times in which he was quoted as saying that the AFC could hand the 11 percent East Indian vote to APNU in order to secure a coalition victory.  Instead, he predicted that APNU would again win 40 percent of the votes in the upcoming polls and would need his party’s support. “If you want to cross the line and have majoritarian government in Guyana, you need eleven percent. The Alliance For Change has a strategic role in elections where there are two parties to the contest,” he said.

The AFC hopes that negotiations with APNU would be wrapped up before its National Executive conference scheduled for Saturday, February 14, 2015 preceding a Special Members Conference to be held in March. Without giving details, Nagamootoo said the talks were not only about removing the PPPC from office. “We want to happen is not simply to put the PPP minority government out. We want to be able to have an alternative that holds out promise for all the people of Guyana, that will make a new begining. That’s what we are agonizing about. If these talks are a little dicy, a litle tricky, taking more time than they ought to, more energy than they ought to take ; it is because we are trying to bring something that will be an enduring solution to many of the problems facing our people,” he said.

While Nagamootoo was highly confident that AFC would win a plurality, he and other executive members were at pains to say they were very optimistic about the outcome of the talks for a pro-democracy alliance.  “In these elections, the Alliance For Change believes that if you have a three-party contest we are confident that we will gain the plurality.

We are confident that we could win an election in a three-way contest but because we are committed to national unity that we need for the very first time in our history a multi-party, multi-class, multi-ethnic  and national government that we had decided we would invest in an alliance policy,” he said.

Asked specifically how good were the prospects of the coalition talks succeeding on a scale of 1 to 10 or 1 to 100 or a “very good chance,” the AFC Vice Chairman declined to do so. “We will see when we get there,” he said.