Oct 26, 2019 News
Lead Negotiator of A Partnership For National Unity (APNU), Volda Lawrence is denying that talks between her party and the Alliance For Change (AFC) have stalled.
This is despite AFC’s Treasurer, Dominic Gaskin, saying on Thursday that talks will not proceed until it is agreed that AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, will be the APNU/AFC coalition’s prime ministerial candidate for the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.
Lawrence, during a press conference held by the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) at Congress Place yesterday, said that the APNU has not received any correspondence from AFC that talks have stalled.
She was tightlipped about the particulars of the APNU’s refusal to accept Ramjattan as the prime ministerial candidate. The AFC Leader has been criticised for his record as Minister of Public Security, often going back and forth with critics and the media about whether Guyana is safe. Ramjattan has often said that crime, particularly violent crime, is on the decrease, and that any other view is probably influenced by the media’s “sensational” reporting methods.
When asked what she thought of his record, she said that she couldn’t give a comprehensive assessment, but that she’s sure he did the best he could, given the state of public security management left by the previous administration.
The AFC, at its National Conference last June, had thought it best to select Ramjattan by way of a vote, as the party’s new Leader. But APNU had kept itself at a distance from the announcement. Constantly questioned by the media, its members had repeated that it was yet to discuss – let alone, endorse – Ramjattan as the coalition’s prime ministerial candidate.
The two parties had signed the initial Cummingsburg Accord to contest the 2015 General and Regional Elections. That agreement gave APNU the choice to select the party’s presidential candidate, while the AFC copped the selection of the prime ministerial candidate.
The APNU side is now contending that letting AFC choose the Prime Ministerial Candidate may be in contravention with the President’s exclusive Constitutional right to appoint a Prime Minister, despite allowing its lesser coalition partner to choose the Prime Ministerial candidate to contest the previous election, back when the choice it made was Moses Nagamootoo.
Lawrence is contending that the disagreement between the two parties isn’t as serious as it may seem.
She instead offered that the discourse has been enriching, and that proposals from both sides have been taken in an amicable way.
“It’s such a good atmosphere!” she exclaimed at yesterday’s press conference.
But Gaskin had said that the party’s National Executive Committee Meeting on November 2, 2019 would see it discussing and deciding on how it will participate in the General and Regional Elections, after asserting that the coalition’s acceptance of the AFC’s right to choose Ramjattan as the candidate is a non-negotiable tenet of its accord with the APNU.
Asked whether the AFC is interested in coalescing with any party other than the APNU, Gaskin had said that, while the party has not specifically considered another coupling, it is open to forming alliances with anyone of similar convictions. One of those convictions must be on the matter of Constitutional Reform, the party’s Vice Chair, Cathy Hughes had offered.
Lawrence could not account for these statements by the AFC executives.
She said “I don’t know why I would be happy and full of energy all day today, and go home tonight and start to shiver; then realize that I’m having the flu. Things happen. We’re human beings. We’re not perfect.”
Lawrence said that the coalition remains strong, and that negotiations will continue.
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