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APNU stronger with two unknown parties

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 June 2021, 9:32 by Denis Chabrol

Tabitha Sarabo-Halley

Months after refusing to place elected representatives from a number of smaller parties that had been part of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) in the National Assembly because he believed that they had not  won at least 7,000 votes at last year’s elections, the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), David Granger said his umbrella body was again stronger because two former  ministers have named parties that are now part of  the grouping he chairs.

The unknown parties are the Guyana Nation Builders Movement (GNBM) and the Equal Rights and Justice Party (ERJ). The GNBM has been established by Tabitha Sarabo-Halley who resigned from the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) after a fall-out with Mr. Granger over the process for picking the WPA’s representative in the National Assembly.  “APNU was happy to receive those two new parties which have now become partners in APNU so there is no magic about it. We are back up to strength. We feel that we are stronger together and we applaud the decisions of the members who are both younger and they are experienced because they were both in Parliament before and they are certainly not newcomers to the political scene,” Mr. Granger said on his weekly Public Interest programme  that is moderated by a member of his public relations team.

Former Junior Public Infrastructure Minister, Jaipaul Sharma, who was on APNU+Alliance For Change (AFC) ticket as a member of the Justice For All Party but was not picked as a parliamentarian after last year’s elections, has since left the JFAP, formed the Equal Rights and Justice Party and embraced APNU. Ms. Halley is a former Public Service Minister in the APNU+AFC government.

The PNCR Leader and APNU Chairman said Ms. Sarabo-Halley and Mr. Sharma would now have to attract supporters to their political parties. “Each has a manifesto or a concept paper and they will be going out, campaigning and bringing their own constituents into APNU so we are strong and the accession of those two new parties has strengthened the APNU and although it’s a loss to have those two former parties withdraw, it’s a strength for two other parties to come on board so we’re good to go,” he said.

Then Junior Finance Minister Jaipaul Sharma

The National Front Alliance’s (NFA) Keith Scott also did not return to the House. The WPA is yet to return to the APNU fold.

Mr. Granger, who has not held a news conference in months, did not say on his programme whether his 7,000 votes formula would still be used as a requirement for them to be picked to go into the National Assembly after the next general elections constitutionally due by 2025.

At the 2020 general elections, a number of unknown parties – The New Movement, A New and United Guyana, Liberty and Justice Party, Change Guyana, and The Citizenship Initiative- had surfaced. Particularly after polling day, they had been perceived in some quarters as leaning more towards the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

Meanwhile, Mr. Granger restated his preference for the proportional representation electoral system, saying that it more reflects the will of Guyanese at the polls in contrast to the First Past The Post constituency system.

The constituency system is still being used in other English-speaking member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Under the Proportional Representation system, the Representative of the List is responsible for picking parliamentarians from the list of candidates who have been elected en bloc. If a parliamentarian has to be replaced, the Representative of the List informs the Chief Elections Officer of the name of the elected member to be extracted and this information is transmitted to the Clerk of the National Assembly for arrangements to be made for that person to be sworn in.