Coalition formidable

Moses Nagamootoo Prime Minister and First Vice-President of Guyana

– PM points to shake-up in political demographics in Amerindian communities
– WPA Hinds calls for more meetings of parties

THE A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) coalition government remains “a very cohesive and formidable political force”, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said Sunday.

In an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, the prime minister said despite the projections of naysayers, the coalition has proved that after three years in office, the six parties of which it is comprised have been able to work together.
“The coalition has shown that it has quality leadership, a clear idea as to the importance of inclusive governance as well as a vision on the strategy for the comprehensive development of the country,” said Nagamootoo.

Asked to comment on the strength of the coalition ahead of both Local Government Elections slated later this year and the 2020 General and Regional Elections, Nagamootoo said inclusivity is critical.

He explained that the coalition which comprises six political parties — the Guyana Action Party (GAP), the Justice For All Party (JFA), the National Front Alliance (NFA), the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), continues to work towards broadening the base of grassroot democracy by working both at the political and civic society levels.

By so doing, the coalition is better able to be assessed based on merit, thereby ensuring that there is a shared governance structure at the local government level.

“Already as we can see, the political demographics are being altered as in the Amerindian Council Elections, where larger numbers of people have chosen, even in traditional PPP areas, not to be associated with their parties,” said the prime minister.

As a result, Nagamootoo, who is a member of the AFC, has repeatedly stated that the coalition government has established and enhanced the landscape for inclusivity and accountability in the governance process, made it clear that “the winning formula seems to be greater inclusion of civil society”.

On Saturday, his party announced that it has begun its campaign for the LGE and has also started identifying candidates in each municipality and Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NCD) to participate in the said elections.

“The party, having already commenced its Local Government Elections campaign, has started with the identification of candidates in each municipality and Neighbourhood Democratic Council.

“The negotiations with coalition partner A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) with regard to contesting the LGE on a joint platform will continue,” the party said in a statement to the media.

Earlier in the year, the AFC agreed to contest the much anticipated elections with its coalition partner, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). The top brass of the parties are expected to meet to discuss matters relating to the elections.
“It shows that at the local government level, the winning formula seems to be greater inclusion of civil society and at the national level while it may be too soon to talk about those elections I am confident that the credibility of the coalition government has placed it as a superior force in any contest in 2020,” Nagamootoo said.
However, executive member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) and political activist, Dr David Hinds on Sunday told the Guyana Chronicle that while the coalition government is intact, he does not believe it is as cohesive as it should be.

He believes that there is lack of full cohesiveness, which is due as a result of limited meetings among the organs of the APNU.

“I think that has a tremendous impact on the cohesiveness of the coalition. It works well at the level of the Cabinet, there is no doubt about that,” he said.
Dr Hinds, who has been critical of the administration, said the meeting of the organs of the APNU is “very important” so as to have discussions on political strategies, tactics and the merits of policies.

“A lot more could be done to make the coalition cohesive. I think there have not been structured meetings outside of Cabinet between the APNU and AFC; I think they have only been meeting when there is a problem. Take for example; the LGE is upon us where they are trying to work out whether they should go together,” stated Dr Hinds.

WPA Executive, Dr David Hinds

“I am arguing that they need to meet structurally and statutorily. You are dealing with parties of different political orientations, different history and ideologies… and so for the coalition to work, you need to be constantly talking and hearing ideas,” he added as he called for the broadening of decision making process outside of Cabinet.
If this is not done, he is of the opinion that campaigning for the upcoming LGE would be affected. The political activist explained that LGE represents a complex undertaking as it speaks specifically to communities, each of which has their own peculiar and particular problems and issues.

“So therefore I think if the perception among people is that the coalition is cohesive, then I think it will mobilise people more,” he said, noting that the government won the 2015 elections because of the perception of togetherness.
“As we go to LGE, which takes more mobilising than normal… you have to find something to bring them out to the polls and I am arguing that a sense of cohesiveness and togetherness will serve as a mobilising tool,” Dr Hinds told Guyana Chronicle.
Notwithstanding his criticism, Dr Hinds was quick to point out that Guyana’s future lies in coalition politics, especially with the coming of an oil economy.

He said it would be ideal to have a government of national unity which includes the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), but that would be a long-term goal. In the short term, however, “we need the coalition to be in place,” he said.
“When facing the might of foreign companies… it is better to have a coalition of parties; it brings a diversity of perspective. Even as I am critical of the way in which the coalition has performed in terms of cohesiveness, it still represents the future of this country. We should do everything in our power, at the level of political parties, supporters of parties, to push the parties to ensure the coalition becomes stronger rather than being weakened,” declared Dr Hinds.

Democracy, he said, thrives on checks and balances and stressed that the strength of the coalition is the diversity of ideas and perspectives placed on the table.
David Hinds