There are reports circulating to wit that the Alliance for Change (AFC) is about to enter into negotiations with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to conclude a memorandum of understanding for future cooperation. If these reports are true then it opens the AFC to the charge of a grand betrayal of its supporters.
There is no doubt that the people of Guyana would love to see nothing more than their leaders working together. But the supporters of each party want also their positions and interests to prevail. As such, while working together they will find widespread support within the society, the greater support so far as the AFC is concerned is through the party using its seven votes in the National Assembly to hold the balance of power.
It was the AFC which it must be recalled that announced to the Guyanese people, even before the official results of the elections were formally announced, that it would hold the balance of power in parliament. In short, its seven votes would arbitrate the voting power of the PPP with 32 seats and APNU with twenty six seats.
Prior to the elections, the AFC had refused to join in an alliance with APNU. It pointed out that it would go it alone and would not join with either the PNCR or the PPP. In this way it hoped to be make an effective contribution to political life in Guyana.
Since its formation, the AFC has projected itself as the alternative to the both the PNCR and the PPP and has sought no formal alliance with either party.
After the elections, it reiterated its right to act independently. It did engage in negotiations with APNU, much to the consternation of the PPP, over the position of Speaker. It bullied APNU into giving it the position of Speaker but reversed itself in terms of its initial candidate and reached agreement on its leader taking the position.
It is understandable that the AFC would have had to negotiate that position with APNU since the PPP stuck to political convention. But the AFC did not entirely close the door to an agreement with the PPP. It said that if it did not get the position of Speaker of parliament, it would go along with the PPP.
The AFC is positioned to serve as a bridge between the PPP and the PNCR and to hold the balance of power. It can use this position to ensure that the interests of all Guyanese are served but particularly the interests of the AFC.
This positioning would see the AFC being flexible and being willing to support positions of either of the two main parties as the circumstances dictate. By sticking to an independent line, by not entering into any formal alliance with either the PPP or the PNCR, the AFC can be an effective holder of the balance of power and take responsible positions and thereby further enhance its electoral appeal with the Guyanese people.
There is however now talk about a more formal alliance between the AFC and APNU. How else does one explain the reports about impending negotiations between the AFC and APNU and the possible signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
Such an MOU would effectively mean that the AFC stands the risk of surrendering its independence. Is this how the AFC hopes to hold the balance of power, by being in bed with APNU?
There will be issues on which both APNU and the AFC be in unison and the AFC may find it expedient to support APNU’ position on the issues concerned. There will also be times when the AFC, as it did on occasions in the National Assembly, will have to support the positions of the PPP. So the AFC will have to negotiate with the parties on various issues.
This is why there is no need for the AFC to sign any MOU with APNU because this will signal a more permanent form of cooperation that could compromise the AFC’s stated commitment to act independently.
The AFC’s therefore should clarify these reports about the parties meeting to enter into an MOU. If these reports are true, the AFC must explain how it expects to preserve it independence in the face of this MOU and how it hopes to hold the balance of power when any MOU would effectively place it in partnership with APNU.
It should clarify these issues urgently because it will cause a great deal of disaffection within its camp. Its supporters will feel that the AFC has betrayed their confidence.
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