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APNU, AFC resolve differences; Nagamootoo heads national govt negotiating team

Attendees at the Prime Ministerial outreach at the Whim Cricket Ground

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo on Saturday announced that his Alliance For Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) resolved  a number of differences, and that he would be heading a team to meet with the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) on forming a government of national unity.

“We are a serious government and we work in consultation. Even when we have problems among ourselves- last Saturday we had a meeting between the APNU and the AFC to thrash out whatever differences we may have in our relationship and we are able to do the same to sit with the PPP and thrash out differences,” he told the inaugural Prime Ministerial outreach at the Whim Cricket Ground, Corentyne.

However, he did not elaborate on those differences between the two political organisations that signed a Valentine’s Day 2015 pact called the Cummingsburg Accord that outlines the distribution of power and responsibilities.

Following Saturday’s meeting, however, Nagamootoo earlier this week announced that the Prime Minister’s office would be decentralized to several regions to allow him and his representatives to meet with persons and have their concerns addressed.

Describing the PPPC as a “credible opposition,”  that received a “fair chunk” of votes at the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, he said he is heading a committee to hold discussions with the opposition on political cooperation.  “We are prepared to open the doors to the PPP to if they want to enter this government because  we want to have an inclusive government, we want to have a government of National Unity as broadly as possible,”  said Nagamootoo, a former long-serving senior PPP member.

The Prime Minister said the PPP could not be avoided because that party controls seven of  Guyana’s 10 administrative regions. “We want to enter into a  fruitful relationship with the PPP , not a picketing party but a party that comes to the table to talk because we are serious about the issues facing Guyana,” in apparent passing reference to a picketing demonstration outside the Whim Cricket ground by anti-government protesters.

At the same time, he ruled out the David Granger-led administration striking a deal for the quashing of series of forensic audits at a number of State-owned entities in exchage for political cooperation.

The Prime Minister told the estimated 500 attendees that “I am heading a committee that would engage the leadership of the PPP in talks where we can cooperate on many of the things we have to do for Guyana.”

Some analysts and the PPPC have charged that APNU has shafted the AFC by denuding the agreed responsibilities of the Prime Minister in violation of the pre-election Cummingsburg Accord. They include making the prime minister responsible for domestic security, chairing the cabinet, and appointing non-constitutional commissions.

The Prime Minister has instead been given responsibilities for Leader of Government business in the House, the State Media and the non-gazetted responsibility of constitutional reform. Nagamootoo has sought to downplay the breach of the agreement and has instead embarked on a crusade about his appointment as Prime Minister.

The national security portfolio has been split up with Citizenship and Immigration going to a junior minister in the Ministry of the Presidency and AFC Leader being handed the responsibilities of police, prisons and fire services.

The Cummingsburg Accord did not provide for the appointment of the several junior ministers in the Ministry of the Presidency and several other ministries. Minister of State in the Office of the President, Joseph Harmon has the largest number of key ministerial responsibilities.