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Robert Badal breaks ranks with AFC to form new party

FLASHBACK: Robert Badal addressing an APNU+AFC rally at Anna Regina ahead of the May 11, 2015 general elections.

Key Alliance For Change (AFC) financier, Robert Badal has broken away from that party, and is teaming up with well-known chartered accountant, Nigel Hinds to form a new political party.

Mr Badal tried desperately not to confirm a report Friday night by the privately-owned Stabroek News newspaper that he is going to be at the helm of a new political organisation.

Eventually, he said, “I will talk about it next week”.

Mr Badal also declined to comment on whether the formation of the party is named “Change Guyana”. The party is scheduled to be officially launched on October 29 at the Pegasus Hotel.

The party bills itself as “a new and bright political party on a mission to ignite economic and social development for the benefit of all Guyanese”. Mr Badal will be the presidential candidate and Hinds, the prime ministerial candidate.

Mr Hinds is a major advocate for the revision of the production sharing agreement between Guyana and ExxonMobil. Hinds’ name had at one time been floated as a prime ministerial candidate for the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP). He had even attended a couple of PPP-aligned events at the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre.

News of the formation of a second party in as many days now raises questions about the electoral viability of the AFC. The Citizenship Initiative was launched Thursday night, with a number of its well-known advocates and supporters at the helm.

This comes at a time when the AFC is battling to convince David Granger’s People’s National Congress Reform and its dominated A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) that the President should not automatically select its nominee, Khemraj Ramjattan, as his prime ministerial candidate.

AFC Chairman, Raphael Trotman, while noting that “the democratic process is alive and kicking”, said his party would have to “assess the impact” at its next management meeting. “Certainly, it’s not something that we are going to dismiss easily. At the same time, it’s not something that we are going…over. This is the nature of politics. You win some, you lose some,” he said.

On the question of people wanting to leave the AFC if that party was doing so well, Mr Trotman said some people felt that a coalition was necessary while others believed their party should have merely held the balance of power.

WPA executive member and Political Science Professor, David Hinds does not believe the breakaway of several persons from the AFC to form their own parties will weaken that 14-year old organisation. “I don’t think it will affect the AFC standing within the coalition. Once the AFC remains within the coalition, it will remain a viable force but I don’t think that the fact these persons were members and supporters of the AFC are moving on to form new political parties. It says something about the fact that the AFC has not lived up to the expectations of some of its members and supporters,” he said.

Mr Hinds also does not think that the defections from the AFC will weaken its bargaining power with the PNCR/APNU because of its brand. “A lot of people are going to vote for the coalition and not necessarily for a party in the coalition. I mean they may have preference for parties within the coalition but at the end of the day, they will vote for the coalition and I don’t think any of the parties in the coalition…can risk at this point not going to the electorate as the coalition and in that sense I think the AFC has cover,” said Mr Hinds.

In addition to the WPA, the APNU other members are the PNCR, the Guyana Action Party, the National Front Alliance and the Justice for All Party.