President David Granger on Thursday said the selection of his prime ministerial running mate was not automatic, and depends on the outcome of negotiations between A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) on a review of their political agreement, the 2015 Valentine’s Day Cummingsburg Accord.
“I cannot say now, who I would be running with, but I can assure you that the two groups are reviewing the 2015 Accord and we hope to come up with a revised Accord,” said Granger who is Chairman of APNU and leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR).
Asked specifically whether AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan would be his prime ministerial candidate, the Guyanese leader noted that “this is one of the issues that would have to be discussed” in the talks to revise the Accord.
“It is not prudent to anticipate the outcome of negotiations,” he said when asked whether his running mate would necessarily come from the AFC. The AFC has virtually laid down as a non-negotiable that Ramjattan, who was overwhelmingly endorsed by a recent national conference, must be Granger’s running mate.
The President highlighted that APNU and AFC should “abide by the Constitution of Guyana. That is the principal foundation of any agreement. Nothing in the Accord should collide with the Constitution.”
Insiders in the APNU-AFC talks have told News-Talk Radio 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News that APNU is indeed pushing for mere talks on the AFC’s nominee and Granger will have the final say on whether or not that person will be accepted.
High-level AFC sources say the coalition runs the risk of collapsing if no agreement is reached on accepting Ramjattan. “If we can’t get past that, then we can’t have an accord.”
The sources also say APNU wants three more parliamentary seats but AFC appeared willing to negotiate for a greater say or presence in the local government system.
A key concern for the two parties is whether President Granger will serve out his entire term if he wins the March, 2020 elections and whether he will prefer to see Ramjattan emerge as the President. Ramjattan is viewed in some quarters as decisive and strong-willed compared to incumbent Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, who is from APNU/PNCR, had virtually endorsed Nagamootoo publicly days after he was rejected as the AFC’s prime ministerial candidate. “The best Prime Minister we have had in this country for the last twenty-seven years, Moses Nagamootoo,” Harmon had said to sustained applause at a June Bartica gathering. “I don’t care where you bring any other body from before him, that is the best Prime Minister we have had for the last twenty-seven years and we are proud of our prime minister, we are proud of our coalition partners and we are proud of the process which produces our leaders in our coalition,” Harmon has said.
Speaking after Harmon at that gathering, Prime Minister Nagamootoo had stated that “Bartica ain’t gone yet”. “I’m going to send a message to those who are peddling the slimes ‘Naga gone’ and then he burst into song: ‘Moses ain’t get weary yet, he ain’t weary yet, he been in the struggle so long that he ain’t get weary yet’ after which he said ‘Thank you very much, you have sent an appropriate message’”.
Ramjattan earlier this week expressed confidence that he would be picked to run alongside Granger for the upcoming general elections.