Tabitha Sarabo-Halley eligible to sit in Parliament – AFC; WPA insists on right to choose parliamentarian

Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2020, 19:48 by Denis Chabrol

by Samuel Sukhnandan

Tabitha Sarabo-Halley

The Alliance for Change (AFC) said Friday that former Public Service Minister Mrs.Tabitha Sarabo-Halley is eligible to sit in Parliament although she has resigned from the Working People’s Alliance (WPA).

WPA’s Executive Member, Professor David Hinds said his party’s executive has not discussed whether Mr. Sarabo-Halley would be asked to resign from Parliament.

“We have not discussed the issue beyond the release,” Mr. Hinds told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News.

He added that the WPA has not received any response from Chairman of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), David Granger to its concerns and request that it be consulted before the name of the parliamentary representative from among the four names that had been submitted.

“We  have not had any formal response from the Leader of the Opposition; no formal response either. We have sent our letter and we have not had any response,” said Mr. Hinds, a longtime member of the WPA. “We agave sent our leter and we have not had any response,” he said.

The WPA said it remains open to reconciliation with APNU whose parliamentary active parties are the large and influential People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and the little known Guyana Action Party  (GAP). The Justice For All Party (JFAP) and the National Front Alliance (NFA) were not awarded seats by the PNCR because Mr. Granger did not believe either of them had brought at least 7,000 votes to the coalition.

General Secretary of the AFC Mr. David Patterson told News Talk Radio 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News that her eligibility is provided for by the Cummingsburg Accord that was signed between the AFC and its major partner, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).

“One thing we said when the Cummingburg Accord was put in place, we had a menu of measures or core principles and we had agreed that once you satisfy these core principles, that you are eligible to sit in Parliament. So, the answer is yes, she is eligible to sit in Parliament,” Mr. Patterson explained.

Mrs. Sarabo-Halley resigned from the WPA, a party within the APNU coalition, a few days ago, even as the party maintained that it was not consulted on who should have been the person selected to become Parliamentarian. The WPA had presented four names to the APNU and Sarabo-Halley was selected.

Asked whether the former minister should give up her Parliamentary post, Mr. Patterson deflected from answering, only to say that it is an internal matter with the WPA. “She is part of the WPA and they, like the AFC, have their own mechanism. Our mechanisms address our internal issues and I do think the WPA has similar mechanisms and they will address it,” he added.

The WPA earlier this week said it had dispatched four names – Alim Majeed, Ms. Sarabo-Halley, Kidackie Amsterdam and Deon Abrams- to sit in the National Assembly on a rotational basis, with Mr. Majeed taking the first round in the upcoming 12th Parliament. “We agreed that one seat would be rotated. “WPA felt that these choices represent a mix of ethnic, gender and generational diversity. We also felt that the rotation device would allow more members to gain parliamentary experience. These decisions were unanimously agreed to,” the WPA said.

That party restated that it is its principled position is that the WPA should have the final say on who represents the party in the National Assembly and the Regional Democratic Councils. While the WPA said it recognised that the Representative of the List has overall supervision of the process, the practice within coalitions is that the autonomous parties name their representatives.

“This practice is followed within the wider APNU+AFC Coalition whereby the AFC names its own representatives, but Comrade Granger has stoutly refused to replicate it within the APNU. We reiterate that the APNU is not a political party with a single leader; it is a coalition of independent and autonomous parties with their own leaderships and their separate ideological positions. Thus, each party knows best the kind of representation it requires. No party should determine that for the other,” the WPA said.

Mrs. Sarabo-Halley last year replaced Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine as Minister of Public Service after he resigned because he has dual citizenship.  Following the March 2, 2020 general elections and subsequent declaration of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) as the winner in August, 2020, the People’s National Congress (PNCR)-led APNU has now come down from four parties to two –  PNCR and the little known Guyana Action Party (GAP).

Mr. Granger has been quoted in a PNCR statement as saying that the small parties needed at least 7,000 votes to be eligible for at least one

The former Guyanese head of state had, before the elections, stated repeatedly that the coalition was better together.