The Alliance For Change (AFC) is of the firm view that contesting the Local Government Elections (LGE) is a necessary move to prove that it is not “dead” and will even refresh and strengthen the ties it shares with its partner, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
Making this known during a press conference yesterday was the Party’s leader, Raphael Trotman.
The politician said that the AFC had been long committed to contesting LGE 2018 and had begun preliminary preparations in this regard since 2017.
Trotman said that an important feature of the AFC’s political philosophy is the indispensable input of the people at all levels of governance and in the affairs of the nation. He opined that Local Government is an important tool which the party sees as an important point of contact, consultation and service to the people, “hence our strong commitment”.
He said that the decision to contest independently, however, is the culmination of a studious and considered process which commenced with the National Executive Committee (NEC) having taken a decision in February of this year to engage A Partnership for National Unity, with regard to entering LGE 2018 as a Coalition. He noted that a deadline was set out.
At the appointed deadline, Trotman revealed that no agreement had been reached and the party allowed for an extension for negotiations to continue. The politician said that negotiations continued with a view to arriving at a common ground.
Trotman said that the AFC drafted a proposal for engagement and submitted it to APNU for their consideration. Throughout the process, he said, there had also been a cordial, formal exchange of correspondence between the AFC and APNU leadership. The AFC Leader said that a second deadline arrived without any formal agreement having been reached. Having exhausted the process and without any agreement having fructified, the AFC Leader said that the party took the decision to proceed to LGE 2018 independently. This is as per the mandate of the NEC, should no agreement be reached.
Trotman said that the AFC is confident that it will demonstrate its electoral growth and expansion at the upcoming LGE, as it remains the most progressive political entity in Guyana, with wide support across the country.
During the press conference, Trotman was asked if he thought his party asked for too much, hence, they were left to go to the LGE solo.
Trotman said, “Since last year we decided that we were going to contest the elections independently and we spoke to APNU about the matter. There were little points on which we were able to come to an agreement on. At the national level, it was easy to say 60/40, but LGE is different and it wasn’t easy coming with that same share to the table. Both sides sought to find common ground, but it didn’t materialize because of the particulars… but we still remain cordial on the matter.
“Going independently will refresh and strengthen the coalition for 2020, so that the people will get the best of both parties. Being in government sometimes makes you complacent and you lose touch with the people and the coalition needs to be refreshed. This will augur well for us. We expect to be in competition with each other, but in battle with the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).”
Further to this, some critics believe that the AFC’s performance at the LGE could have implications for its bargaining power when the Cummingsburg Accord comes up for review. But AFC Executive Member and Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson does not believe that this is the case. He stressed that the Cummingsburg Accord does not speak about LGE. He essentially reminded that at the national elections, both the AFC and APNU need each other.
Supporting his colleague’s points, AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan said the party’s decision to contest the LGE alone is necessary.
He concluded, “A lot of people have said we are dead and this is one of the best opportunities to prove otherwise. We have to prove the relevance that we still have as a party and it will prove to everyone that the AFC matters.”
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