…ahead of meeting with AFC following Monday’s postponement
THE highly-anticipated meeting between the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance for Change (AFC) on the revised Cummingsburg Accord was postponed on Monday and instead, the APNU Executive Committee met and agreed on a post-election formula for the allocation of seats as it seeks to wrap up negotiation with the AFC on the revised Cummingsburg Accord–the agreement which brought them together ahead of the 2015 General and Regional Elections.
In a statement on Monday evening, APNU disclosed that the meeting, which was attended by the parties that make up the partnership – Guyana Action Party (GAP), the Justice For All Party (JFAP), the National Front Alliance (NFA), the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) and the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA), was chaired by His Excellency David Granger – Chairman of APNU and President of Guyana.
APNU’s negotiating team, led by Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence, briefed the partners on the progress made and challenges faced in revising the Cummingsburg Accord.
“Following the brief, the partners examined several proposals and agreed on a post-election formula for the allocation of seats and recommended an approach for the continuation of negotiations with the Alliance For Change (AFC) in accordance with the core principles already agreed,” the APNU disclosed.
The partners further agreed and recommended that the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana will guide all future discussions. “APNU remains committed to ending ‘winner-take-all’ politics in Guyana and to contesting the 2020 elections as a Coalition,” it said while iterating that the parties are better together.
The ratio was on the agenda for Monday’s meeting before the postponement. The new formula, once agreed upon, will guide the allocation of parliamentary, ministerial and regional positions. Though the AFC’s lead negotiator was not available to weigh in on the matter on Monday, its Executive Member Dominic Gaskin, last Friday, was almost certain that the two sides would have favourable agreement in place by Monday, November 18, 2019.
Under the old Cummingsburg Accord, APNU was allocated 60 per cent of the seats won by the government in the National Assembly, while the remaining 40 per cent went to the AFC.
However, as the accord goes under revision, a proposal is reportedly on the table for a 70:30 ratio based on the “perceived and real reduced electoral strength” of the AFC. While Gaskin said the party is not unmoving when it comes to the 60:40 allocation, should less be offered to the AFC, there must be something else put in its place that the AFC is willing to accept.
“We’re not looking to score points against our partners; we’re looking for an acceptable outcome, and we have a fairly good idea of what’s acceptable to the AFC,” he said.
In a prepared statement from the party, Gaskin also hit home the importance of the Monday deadline, stating that it could “no longer be extended.” But from all indication, the deadline, having not being met, has been further extended to facilitate the next meeting, set for this week. Initially, the AFC had hoped to sign off on the revised Cummingsburg Accord by November 10.
On Friday, Lawrence reported that the negotiations have proceeded well, with present hopes for a conclusion “very soon”. “I will say to you that the negotiations are in place, and it is a negotiation, and at the end of that negotiation, both parties will be speaking on all the matters, I’m quite certain, with the full media,” the APNU lead negotiator said. Negotiation between the two sides began in August after they had agreed on a number of core principles.