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AFC indicated no decision to suspend talks; “APNU+AFC coalition remains strong” – PNCR Chairperson

FLASHBACK: Party Chairman Volda Lawrence delivering a feature address to the PNCR General Council

Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Volda Lawrence on Friday downplayed word of a rift over the Alliance For Change’s (AFC) insistence that Khemraj Ramjattan must be President David Granger’s running mate in next March’s general elections.

“Despite recent reports in the media, the APNU+AFC coalition remains strong,” she told a news conference at Congress Place, the PNCR’s headquarters.

Asked why the seeming reluctance to accept Ramjattan, the AFC Leader and currently Public Security Minister, as the prime ministerial candidate, she said “I am not allowed to discuss that in public” because the negotiations were continuing. Lawrence expected talks to resume when AFC Chief Negotiator, David Patterson returns to Guyana and she also alluded to optimism expressed by AFC Chairman Raphael Trotman.

She said the AFC never informed the PNCR-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) delegation that it would no longer be participating in negotiations to revise the February 14, 2015 political agreement, styled the Cummingsburg Accord, unless the issue over the prime ministerial candidate is resolved between the two political parties. “We have no indication from the AFC that these talks have come to an end, they are stalled or any of those issues that I see bandying about in the media,” she said.

Lawrence said a list of “core principles” has not been rejected and “we have made tremendous steps” in negotiations for a revised Cummingsburg Accord.

The AFC said on Thursday its National Executive Committee would meet next week Saturday to discuss the issue and the party’s future in the next general elections. That party’s negotiator, Dominic Gaskin has made it very clear that it would not back down from Ramjattan as its prime ministerial nominee and would not trade that off for a reduction in the number of parliamentary seats or for an increased presence in the local government system.

Gaskin said there would be no possibility of a collision between a political agreement and Guyana’s constitution if the two parties agree who would be the prime ministerial and presidential candidates.