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AFC General Secretary dodges key questions on LGE talks with APNU; says date for more talks is “being held in strict confidence”

Left to right: AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan; party leader, Raphael Trotman; General Secretary, Marlon Williams and Youths For Change leader, Cynthia Rutherford (file photo)

The Alliance For Change (AFC) finally got its wish and held talks with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) on the way forward on Local Government Elections, but the AFC’s General Secretary, Marlon Williams dodged key questions on whether the talks were successful and when the two sides would meet again.

Government’s Department of Public Information barely stated in a video bulletin that “APNU/AFC commence negotiations aimed at arriving at an agreement for contesting LGE (Local Government Elections)”. No details were provided.

AFC Leader, Raphael Trotman confirmed that AFC and APNU held talks earlier in the day, but he declined to provide any details. AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan said he was just back from dealing with the piracy incident and he was yet to be briefed on the talks.

Asked if the meeting was successful, the AFC General Secretary said a joint release between the two political organisations would be issued later Monday night, adding that “well we have started our conversation. We started talking”. He said the press release would contain the areas that were discussed between the two sides and whether or not the discussions were successful what areas were discussed.

Quizzed on if there were any areas of success, Williams said “you will know in due course. we have started our conversation as we agreed. In due course you’ll know.”  On the question of whether the AFC was satisfied with the outcome of the talks, he said, “you must appreciate that these discussions will be held in the strictest of confidence”.

Even the date for the next meeting, for the AFC General Secretary, appeared to be classified information. “That is being held in strict confidence”.

Monday’s talks were held just days after the AFC issued APNU an ultimatum to discuss several key issues that would determine whether the AFC would contest this December’s local government elections alone or with its larger coalition partner. Issues such as the proportional allocation of seats, assignment of mayoral and deputy mayoral positions in the town councils, and financing of the campaign were expected to be some of the key issues down for discussion.

The AFC on May 1 had decided to give President David Granger a two-week ultimatum for the two sides to meet, after several party executives  had raised concerns about how the AFC was being treated by APNU.

They had noted that it was not until April 30 – the eve of the AFC’s National  Executive Committee (NEC) meeting- that President Granger had responded to the AFC’s letter dated February 26, 2018 requesting a meeting.