How much lower can the AFC descend? The party has been abused, humiliated and disgraced by the PNCR. Yet it continues to stay in a marriage in which there are irreconcilable differences, and in which it is no longer welcome in the matrimonial bed.
At what point will the AFC say enough is enough? What will it take for that party to understand that the PNCR does not want it around and will never treat the party with the respect it deserves?
The PNCR has its plans on how it will return to power. And those plans are not reliant on the support of the AFC. The PNCR knows how to get back in office without the support of its coalition partners, and so these partners are effectively window-dressing.
The AFC withdrew recently from talks with APNU on the grounds that the latter was avoiding discussion on what the AFC says is it non-negotiable, the Prime Ministerial slot which the AFC wants for its leader Khemraj Ramjattan for the next elections.
The AFC held a press conference where it debunked the contention that for the AFC to choose a candidate would conflict with the President’s prerogative to appoint such a person as provided for in the Constitution.
The AFC made it clear that it naming a candidate does not conflict with the President’s duty to appoint; that he can appoint someone who the party names.
A compromise was reportedly brokered and the AFC returned to the negotiating table. While the basis for the resumption of talks was not made public, news reports suggest that the two sides may have agreed to an arrangement which the PPP claimed it had with the Civic component of its slate since 1992 – and that is that the PPP would be assured of the Presidency in the event of a vacancy in that office.
The PNCR interestingly was highly critical of this arrangement when it was in opposition. It accused the PPP of playing musical chairs with the Presidency by having the Prime Minister assume the Presidency upon a vacancy. The new President would then appoint a PPP person as Prime Minister and then resign and be succeeded by the PPP Prime Minister, who would then appoint the just resigned President as his or her Prime Minister.
The PNCR insisted that this arrangement made a mockery of the constitution, which requires the Prime Minister to succeed the President. If the reports in the media are true, it means that the AFC and the PNCR are not only smelling like the PPPC, but they have become no different from the PPPC.
The AFC crawled back into talks with APNU without indicating whether it had reached agreement on its non-negotiable position. One of its spokespersons only indicated that progress had been made. That progress was only illusory, because last Wednesday, the President told the media that it was his right to choose.
Kaieteur News reported the President as saying that he has the final authority in the selection (not just appointment) of the Prime Minister and no agreement can override the Constitution. The President was quoted as saying, “I will make the choice…”
This statement by the President effectively prejudices the ongoing talks on the Prime Ministerial slot and renders any negotiations on this issue worthless. In legal parlance, it renders it nugatory.
There is no point in the AFC talking anymore about this issue. The President has made it clear as crystal that he has the prerogative to select, and that he will make the choice. The non-negotiable position which the AFC was holding has now become a non-issue insofar as the PNCR is concerned.
There is no point in the AFC continuing in government if its leader is being treated this way. The statement from the President will make it difficult for the two sides to trust each other in the future.
It is insulting for the PNCR to be saying that it wants the best person for the job. So who in a coalition decides who the best person is? One party and one man?
The AFC must realise by now when it is not wanted. If the PNCR does not wish your leader to be the Prime Minister, what sort of respect do the other members of the AFC feel they will command in any future APNU+AFC government? To put it quite bluntly, the PNCR is rejecting the Leader of the AFC.
The PNCR wishes to continue to dominate the government as it has done since May 2015. It is time for the AFC to stop the masquerade and to walk away from the government before it is too late to restore its lost credibility.
The AFC should no longer subject itself to further public humiliation and shaming. It is time for the AFC to extricate itself from the Coalition government, which has brought it nothing but disrespect.
Elections are a mere four months away and if the AFC walks now, it can still salvage some amount of public respect, enough to once again hold the balance of power in the next parliament. A Prime Ministerial pension is not worth the humiliation of staying with an unwilling partner and being treated like a doormat.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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