Opposition coalition-Is it a marriage of convenience?-Gail Teixeira

PPP Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira

THE touted alliance between the two parliamentary political opposition parties may yet turn out to be a marriage of convenience for one more than the other. Giving an analysis of the current talks which are said to be underway between the Alliance For Change (AFC) and the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Presidential Adviser on Governance, Gail Teixeira, said that it remains to be seen what the reported discussions between the two parties will actually realise.

“… I know from my own experience that an attempt to do that (form a coalition) in the Patriotic Coalition for Democracy, in the best of times where we worked five years on this, wasn’t able to be achieved!”
She said that when she listens to the soundings from the media on the issue which indicate that the AFC leaders – Khemraj Ramjattan and Moses Nagamootoo would like to lead a potential coalition, it would be “interesting to see what comes out of the whole mix”.
The Presidential Adviser made these observations during an interview on the National Communications Network’s ‘Political Scope’ programme on Thursday.
She explained that the AFC at present is not the same party it was some five years ago and lacks the same support. “AFC members have left them to go to APNU and we know who they are. They’ve formed APNU branches, some of them. AFC has lost support in the Diaspora. It has lost support of some of the PPP members who voted for them, our supporters who voted for them have crossed back or are crossing back. The AFC doesn’t have the rigour or support that they came into the 2011 elections with. They are a shell of what they are”.
The elections contest, Teixeira said confidently, will be between the APNU and the PPP. AFC, she opined needs the coalition because they want to try to strengthen their hand. Whether the APNU needs the AFC is another issue. She added that statements made, purportedly by the AFC executives about exacting “retribution” on Government figures and supporters is “not an indication of a party that wants to have national unity or wants to be a party of peace and development.” She noted that the PPP has been the longest serving political opposition party which has managed to return to power.
Describing the language emanating from the AFC leadership as “loaded and vitriolic”, she said that in contrast, one cannot find any statement made by any PPP leader about retribution of any kind, whether at a rally or in any media report in the pre 1992 elections. This, she added, is in spite of being in opposition for 28 years against a government that had rigged elections. “We never threatened retribution and all these things, and we know about the corruption that took place in the PNC, we know very well”. The worst of the afore-mentioned corruption practiced by the PNC now APNU, was the stealing of votes, Teixeira said. “They took away the right of our people of choice to choose their leaders, to choose their parties, and that is the biggest crime of the PNC. It has never apologised to the people that…this happened in a certain era and it won’t happen again, ever”.
The bullying by the AFC, she said is an attempt to show that “they are tough and strong and can do what they want.” These proposed actions by the AFC are not how a political party can build a nation and move it forward, she stated. Within the ruling party, the presidential adviser said, there were those who called on the leadership to “take care of things and deal with some of these people who were utter criminals” when they returned to office, but this line was never taken.
“It was about trying to restore Guyana, to reconstruct Guyana and to recognise that one had to create a situation where people who had been supporters of the PNC felt there was a place for them. They were told ‘here is this Indian party and they are going to take over and black people are not going to have jobs, the public service and the police’. This is what they were told and we never allowed that to happen”.
The PPP is a party of all ethnic groups and persons from all sections of society, the Presidential Adviser emphasised. “It is true that a large base of the PPP is Indo Guyanese, but we could never have won an election, even under free and fair elections with only Indo-Guyanese voting for us because Indo Guyanese is about 43%”. She noted that Afro-Guyanese amount to around 30% of the population and the Amerindians are 10%.
“The People’s Progressive Party/Civic could never win an election on the basis of Indo-Guyanese and APNU cannot win an election if it is only to do with Afro-Guyanese”.
She observed that the APNU has what she described as a serious problem with diversity, both at the leadership level and at parliament, unlike the PPP which is more diverse at the leadership and at the grassroots levels. She added that the AFC is trying to promote itself as a multi-ethnic group, but it is not.