Loyalty is everything but it is hard to find. Trust is easy to lose but it is hard to achieve. Action speaks louder than words. These concepts date back decades. Things have changed, but not for the better for the Alliance for Change (AFC). After three years in power as a junior partner in the coalition government, it has found itself in a difficult position. While being in power has placed it in a powerful position, the AFC has lost the confidence of its supporters and has become less influential as a political party
The AFC has found itself between a rock and a hard place. Cabinet solidarity has forced its ministers to lend support to the government on issues that are unpopular to its constituents. These include the unilateral appointment of the GECOM Chairman by President Granger, its failure to implement constitutional reforms, its perceived inability to get APNU to review the Cummingsburg Accord and the rejection of its nominee to GECOM in favour of the Working People’s Alliance nominee.
The AFC’s capitulation on the appointment of the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission and on constitutional reform has created a deep division within the party. At present, the party is struggling to carve out a path for meaningful dialogue within the government and to remain relevant to its shrinking political base. Since joining the coalition, the AFC has become less of a political force in national politics than when it was an independent third party.
Although these embarrassing incidents have diminished the reputation of the AFC as an effective political party, yet, its leaders have claimed that it is treated fairly and with respect in the coalition. However, the failure to push for constitutional reform, which was a major issue of its campaign platform, has seriously ruined its credibility. In order to restore its integrity and sustain its credibility, the AFC must convince the government to implement some of its campaign promises it made during the election. But its lack of success in this aspect has weakened the party and placed it in a disadvantageous position to make demands from APNU.
Since joining the coalition, the AFC has been repeatedly sidelined by APNU. The most recent incident occurred a few weeks ago when its leaders issued an ultimatum to APNU over Local Government Elections (LGE). After waiting several weeks on APNU to confirm a date to discuss the modalities for LGE scheduled for later this year, the AFC gave its coalition partner two weeks to reply or else it would contest the LGE as a separate party. However, as reported, APNU and the AFC met on Monday last, to craft an accord to contest the upcoming LGE as a coalition.
After three years with the coalition government, it seems that the AFC is losing ground. Its voice is limited at the cabinet level. Most major government decisions are made by the PNC members of the coalition. The fact that the AFC has repeatedly called for a review of the Cummingsburg Accord clearly shows that there is growing dissatisfaction with its role.
Many of its supporters believe that the AFC took a calculated risk which turned out to be ugly when it joined APNU, comprised mostly of PNC members. It has essentially abandoned its principles in order to support the coalition government which has been plagued with scandals, corrupt practices, inexperience or total disregard for accountability, transparency and in a few cases the rule of law.
The AFC seems to have lost its political will as a third force. Its functionaries seem driven less by the principles which the party were founded on, and more by political power which has become an end rather than a means to achieve its objectives. Today, it is in a precipitous meltdown. The inability to reform the clearly broken political process as well as the constitution has diminished the relevance of the AFC as a third party.
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