I first read it in Demerara Waves. Then I checked with Suraj Narine who covered the AFC press conference for Kaieteur News. Suraj played the tape and it conforms to what was carried by Demerara Waves. At the first press conference as returned leader of the AFC, held two weeks ago, Raphael Trotman said that outside of Ministerial entitlements carved out in the Cummingsburg Accord, President Granger appointed three Ministers on his own.
Trotman named the three ministers as himself, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder and Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, who is the President’s son-in-law. I have no problem with the president choosing his son-in-law to be a Minister. But I honestly feel that it would have been a torrid topic of conversation if a PPP President had done the same. And I do believe there is legitimate reason to ask President Granger that seeing that it was his son-in-law, if it would not have been more plausible and elegant politics for the AFC to do the selection rather than the President himself.
The announcement by Trotman raises many questions which may have acceptable answers, and it would enlighten Guyanese who like to know what their leaders are doing, if the AFC could respond.
First, it would appear then, that in the Cabinet there are three layers of Ministers. Those would be Ministers that APNU leadership identified. Those the AFC identified and the three that President Granger personally selected.
Secondly, the Cummingsburg Accord assigned forty percent of the Cabinet to AFC and sixty to APNU. Did that happen? Does the AFC have forty percent? And this cannot include the three Mr. Granger chose because at the press conference, Mr. Trotman did say that the president made those choices outside of the stipulations of the Accord.
Thirdly, when the AFC and APNU sat down to look at portfolios, one would have thought it was logical for the two sides to opt for preferences. It was commonsensical politics for the AFC in discussions with APNU, during the drafting of the Cummingsburg Accord, to go for the Agriculture Ministry. The AFC couldn’t be that stupid to think that its votes in 2011 came from other regions than in the agricultural districts of Guyana. The GECOM-released voting pattern for 2011 showed that Berbice played the crucial role in the PPP’s failure to secure a majority.
In 2015, the GECOM release would not include the AFC, since the AFC did not contest on its own. Although the GECOM 2015 publication showed the PPP gaining more votes in Berbice than in 2011, they were not sufficient to give it a majority. One can then say that a percentage of Indians stayed with the AFC and that took the coalition over the 50 percent mark.
One can deduce again that such a big part of that percentage came from the agricultural areas of Guyana, particularly Berbice and Essequibo. Against this background, when in May 2015 the two parties sat down to discuss allocation of Ministries, why didn’t the AFC ask for Agriculture because the choice was so logical?
Fourthly, does Mr. Noel Holder owe loyalty to the AFC since he was not appointed by them? Rajendra Bisessar, one of the AFC leaders who negotiated the Cummingsburg Accord with APNU, told me over snacks last Saturday at the OMG on Sheriff Street that Mr. Holder has rejected requests from the AFC to have a junior minister. Mr. Bisessar went on to tell me that his name was among the list. Bisessar says this remains Mr. Holder’s position. If what Mr. Bisessar told me is true, then it raises question of the AFC’s reach with Mr. Holder.
Fifthly, Raphael Trotman was one of the leading figures in the AFC during the 2015 elections. Trotman has always been a huge figure in the AFC, and no doubt that played a crucial role in him winning the contest for the leader’s position at the last AFC national conference. During the 2015 election campaign, he represented the AFC in the joint command of the coalition which had its head office in Queenstown.
We are getting into murky and intriguing waters here. Why would such a mammoth personality in the leadership of the AFC not have been on the AFC’s list for a ministerial job? After Ramjattan, one would have thought that the next choice of Minister would have been Trotman. But according to Trotman himself, it was the President that made him a Minister, and not a submission by the AFC. I would like to see the answers to these questions.
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