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WPA pulls out of APNU coalition

Last Updated on Friday, 21 August 2020, 11:29 by Denis Chabrol

The headquarters of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA).

The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) has decided to withdraw from the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) unless it is given the right to pick its representative to sit in the 31-seat opposition benches.

“First, we insist that the WPA be immediately accorded the right to determine who its representative on the APNU list to the National Assembly should be.

Second, we ask that this principle be enshrined in the APNU Charter. Third, we insist that the recommendations of the Corbin Report be implemented. Should the second and third conditions be met within the next two months, the WPA would revisit its decision to leave,” the WPA told  A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Chairman, David Granger.

WPA Chairman Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, who was the Minister of Public Service, was picked by Mr. Granger to return to the House.

Unless the situation is resolved, this effectively leaves APNU with the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and the lesser known Guyana Action Party (GAP). The PNCR has already quoted its leader as suggesting that Keith Scott’s National Front Alliance (NFA) and Chandra and Savitrie Narine Sharma’s Justice For All Party (JFAP) did not muster 7,000 votes to earn themselves a seat in the National Assembly.

The opposition benches will include the nine from the Alliance For Change (AFC) which is in coalition with APNU.

The text of the letter dated 18th August, 2020 is reproduced below.

First, we insist that the WPA be immediately accorded the right to determine who its representative on the APNU list to the National Assembly should be. Second, we ask that this principle be enshrined in the APNU Charter. Third, we insist that the recommendations of the Corbin Report be implemented. Should the second and third conditions be met within the next two months, the WPA would revisit its decision to leave.

Since the formation of the APNU and particularly since the rise to office in 2015 of the APNU+AFC Coalition, there have been several violations of the principles governing coalition politics. These violations have threatened to dismantle the APNU. Most noteworthy has been how important decisions are arrived at. WPA has had cause on several occasions, both internally and publicly, to draw attention to the practice of non-consultation within the APNU. It cannot be denied that the behaviour of the PNCR leadership in this regard has left a lot to be desired. Decisions affecting the APNU have been made and continue to be made in the name of the constituent parties without consultations. In other words, we have had to live with PNC’s decisions being  imposed on the rest of the APNU. Unfortunately, although the Coalition is now out of power, nothing has changed for the better within the APNU.

Throughout the life of the APNU, WPA, to its detriment,  has done everything within its powers to ensure the survival and success of the APNU and by extension, the coalition. The accommodating positions it assumed on critical issues, which it would normally condemn, have exposed our party both internally, by party members and supporters and externally, by its detractors, to the worst kinds of criticisms imaginable. It has become very clear even to our most hardline supporters of “accommodation” that in the face of recent developments, which culminated in the fiasco of the 2020 elections, it could no longer be business as usual within the APNU.

WPA takes this opportunity to remind you that our contributions to the formation and evolution of the APNU have been relatively formidable. For a party without much material resources, we have endeavoured to compensate in areas in which our strengths are manifest.  During the recent campaign and the impasse which followed, we made equal contributions from the preparation of the manifesto, to participation on the campaign platform, when we were allowed participation, to the defence of the Coalition and advocacy of  its case during the five- month standoff.

Our contributions have been made out of a recognition that Guyana needed and continues to need a new approach, if it is to emerge from the state it finds itself in. We believe Coalition Politics is necessary for the survival of Guyana as a viable nation-state. In pursuit of this objective we have made the ultimate sacrifice of  neglecting the replenishing of our party in deference to the unity and viability of the APNU. Unfortunately, leaders of the PNCR have not been similarly disposed. So,  we continue to witness their bludgeoning of their APNU partners even at a critical time when togetherness is required.

To our utter embarrassment, not for the first time the WPA was  informed by the media that APNU had decided on its representatives for the next National Assembly.  It was only after we sent a letter to you enquiring about the state of affairs that we were informed by the General Secretary of the PNCR, that the Chairperson of the WPA is one of the selected persons. This, of course was done without  any engagement with WPA, thus denying the party an opportunity to determine who its representative should be. We view this as uncomradely, disrespectful, insulting, a gross disregard for principle and, therefore, unacceptable.

This decision in so far as WPA is concerned is a precursor of what is to come. WPA is therefore requesting that the names referred to as its “two nominees” on the APNU list for Parliament and Region 4 RDC, be removed. For the record, WPA notes the non-allocation of parliamentary seats to the other small parties. If this is indeed the case, the development has changed the electoral image of the APNU and in the process, has effectively destroyed the organization’s election franchise.

The time has come when the WPA is forced to draw a line in the sand and say that enough is enough. Since 2015 there has been no new and progressive dispensation within the APNU and there is no recognition of the rights of the partners to contribute to the decision-making process and more importantly, for each party, not the General Secretary of the PNCR, or its Leader, to determine unilaterally, the allocation of seats to each member party of the APNU for Parliament, RDC and NDC. In a meeting before the March 2. 2020: General and Regional Elections, with you, comrade Granger and other PNCR representatives in the Ministry of the Presidency Media Centre, we made our position clear on the above matter and were assured by you that we have an agreement – only to learn that this was not so when our nominee for Region 10 was not put on the list of candidates. 

Mr. Granger, we are convinced that there will be no significant attitudinal changes within the APNU on the matters raised above, and those which must engage the attention of the organization and be corrected, if it is to regain the government at future elections. It is this conviction and the circumstances referenced that WPA feels it can no longer remain a member of the APNU.

However, given our commitment to coalition politics as the way forward for Guyana and out of respect for our historic relationship as partners in the APNU, WPA leaves the door open for reconciliation with the following conditions. First, we insist that the WPA be immediately accorded the right to determine who its representative on the APNU list to the National Assembly should be. Second, we ask that this principle be enshrined in the APNU Charter. Third, we insist that the recommendations of the Corbin Report be implemented. Should the second and third conditions be met within the next two months, the WPA would revisit its decision to leave.