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AFC “still a credible force” in Guyana, but sugar estate closure caused some “fallout”

Last Updated on Friday, 16 November 2018, 16:48 by Denis Chabrol

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

The Alliance For Change (AFC) on Friday conceded that it lost some political support due to the necessary closure of a number of loss-making sugar estates, but claimed that its 10 percent share of the popular vote  at last Monday’s Local Government Elections still makes it a “credible force”.

“What is irreplaceable in the analysis is that if you call it ‘the 10 percent party’, it is still a credible force in Guyana and you have to reckon with it. You have to deal with it, you can’t avoid it and you can’t use besmirching language to denude the fact of a reality,” Acting President and AFC Executive Member, Moses Nagamootoo told a news conference held at Congress Place, the headquarters of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR).  He contended that even if the AFC had secured a mere one percent, that would be “enough to push the coalition over to victory”.

AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan said his party did not perform well at the 2018 Local Government Elections due to “very, very hard decisions”  such as the justifiable closure of the Skeldon and Rose Hall-Canje Estates. “We feel that the sugar decision was absolutely correct because it would have dragged the entire economy like that which happened in Venezuela if we were to bail out, bail out, bail out sugar and indeed a lot of sugar workers are in Berbice and Canje, Corriverton and Whim and all those areas we are going to have some fallout,” he said.

Second Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge. (Demerara Waves Online News).

He rejected as “utter ridiculousness” that the AFC has been demolished at Monday’s local polls. That party won two seats from the Proportional Representation component of the elections, while the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) won seven constituency seats for the first time in Georgetown, while the PNCR-controlled APNU copped 21 overall.

For the AFC, the big question is whether the performance would impact on negotiations with APNU for similar or greater provisions in a successor Cummingsburg Accord: Numerically, what are you bringing to the table to retain your number of parliamentary seats and ministerial portfolio allocation?

However, that party’s Leader, Raphael Trotman did not expect the outcome of the polls would adversely affect the AFC because the two parties are needed to together defeat the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP). “I don’t believe that there will be any negative impact. The AFC has proven it’s relevance through LGE. These elections have been a reality check for the coalition and both will easily recognise that we are both needed to deliver on the promise of the good life. The PPP remains formidable and it will take our combined efforts to overcome them,” Trotman told Demerara Waves Online News.

Trotman said the AFC does not feel crushed, but disappointed and at the same time humbled by some aspects of the results. “Our supporters and the people have spoken and we will listen. The next few months will see us strengthening the base of the party and making a greater contribution to the coalition’s efforts. The party will issue a fuller statement,” he added.

While Ramjattan assured “there will be another coalition government in 2020” and PNCR Chairwoman, Volda Lawrence said Guyanese have found favour in a coalition government, acting Prime Minister Carl Greenidge did not rule out the likelihood of the 2015 AFC-APNU political agreement named the Cummingsburg Accord being renegotiated. “There is no signal at this point in time that there is an intention to change but there is also the capacity; once the parties believe the formula can be improved, they can always call for each other to sit and look at it again so it is not something cast in stone, recognising that circumstances change,” he said. Greenidge said so far the formula has worked, although it not perfect.

APNU is made up of the PNCR, Working People’s Alliance, Justice For All, National Front Alliance and Guyana Action Party. The AFC is associated with APNU but functions as a separate party.

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November 2018