JUST over one month after assuming Executive office, the APNU+AFC coalition has employed a bipartisan team to re-examine the Cummingburg Accord which cemented the existing coalition between the two political parties, and that team is currently so engaged.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo made this disclosure on Sunday’s broadcast of Hard Talk, aired on 90.1 Love FM.
The Cummingsburg Accord, signed on February 14, 2015, cemented the current coalition between A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) following weeks of intense high level negotiations. However, the public’s attention was recently attracted by a few deviations from the accord, two of which were the awarding of two Vice Presidential posts to APNU when the accord stipulated one; and President David Granger chairing Cabinet instead of the Prime Minister.
Responding to speculative assumptions that have plagued the political environment, the Prime Minister related that the model upon which the accord was built is one which does not focus on “I”, but is instead focused on “we”, “us” and “abe dis.”
“This is how the approach towards the accord has to be,” he explained. He explained that while there will be some ‘irritants’, the idea is for the coalition to fulfill the “spirit of the accord.”
Prior to this announcement, however, Nagamootoo disclosed that a bipartisan team is currently in the process of reviewing the accord with intention to see that it is fully implemented.
Leading the AFC ticket in this regard is Nigel Hughes, while Joseph Harmon represents the APNU.
According to the Prime Minister, two persons were identified as arbitrators — referees to whom the individual parties could take “contentious issues” that they themselves cannot hammer out. “If we in fact reach some intractable issues that would be contentious, we will take it to them,” the PM explained.
While some names have surfaced in this regard, Nagamootoo related that he was unsure whether any names were agreed upon, even as he noted that, “they are not active in politics.”
Though not immutable, the PM suggested, “implementation of the accord could help us achieve the understanding that we have arrived at.”
To this end, he noted that, “the accord itself is not something that is cast in stone”. He explained: “Things are going to be dynamic as we go along, and we will have to look at the dynamics of the situation.”
In regard to speculations making the rounds recently, opining that his post was ceremonial, the Prime Minister explained: “I cannot allow myself to fall into a modus of pettiness where I just say ‘oh I was promised this and I was promised that and I didn’t get it’.”
The Prime Minister explained that the accord is observed as a ritual with the view to helping people have “the best face” when they leave home daily to attend work.
“In life,” he explained, “you abide by certain rules; but it’s not just about the rules, it’s the role you play; it’s the ritual you abide with that makes you go through the day in an orderly way.
“In following the accord, we observe it as people observe rituals — with a view to help you to have the best face when you come out of your house to go to your workplace. There is nothing written (in stone) about it,” the Prime Minister explained.
And while he noted that this approach has been working, the PM detailed the circumstances surrounding one of the “very contentious” issues that have demanded attention of recent. That issue is the chairing of Cabinet by the President, as opposed to him.
It was specifically outlined in the Cummingburg Accord that the Prime Minister was the person designated to chair Cabinet. However, when the President is present, this arrangement goes contrary to Article 106 (3) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
That Article reads: “Cabinet Meetings shall be presided over by (a) the President; (s) in the absence of the President, the Prime Minister; (c) in the absence of the President and the Prime Minister, such Minister as the President may designate.”
Weighing in on the issue, the PM explained that while discussions were ongoing prior to the inking of the Cummingburg Accord, he was aware that his name was floated and strongly supported by the AFC to be the coalition’s Presidential Candidate.
“This was the desire of the AFC, that I should become the next presidential candidate; and I said to them, ‘please don’t mention it anywhere’,” the PM revealed.
But after being awarded the Prime Ministerial Candidacy, an informed Nagamootoo explained, “When I saw the accord and it said that the Prime Minister would chair Cabinet, I felt that what had happened there was that if I was there I would have probably given a different input at that.”
“I said at the time that people were trying to make me look good; that they took away the Presidency from this guy, so what would make him look good? Let’s make him Chairman of Cabinet” the PM said.
But fully acknowledging and comprehending the circumstances, PM Nagamootoo asserted that he was not bothered, since he is well aware that there is a “practical, pragmatic and legal side to how things are done.”
By Ravin Singh