AFC keen on constitutional reform
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AFC General Secretary and Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson (centre) flanked by AFC members Trevor Williams (right) and Marlon Williams (left) at the AFC press conference on Friday
AFC General Secretary and Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson (centre) flanked by AFC members Trevor Williams (right) and Marlon Williams (left) at the AFC press conference on Friday

THE Alliance For Change (AFC) is keen on constitutional reform and expects a Cabinet discussion on the matter to be led soon by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo. Constitutional reform is of greatest priority on the AFC’s agenda, David Patterson, General Secretary of the AFC told reporters Friday at the party’s head office in Georgetown.
The prime minister had received a report on constitutional reform from a committee that he had set up. The committee was chaired by eminent attorney Nigel Hughes.
Patterson said the comprehensive proposal, which outlines the way forward, includes public consultation and funding to be included in the 2017 budget in order to facilitate the “kick start of the constitutional reform process.”
According to Patterson, the AFC believes strongly in public involvement in decision-making, and a consultation process will solicit feedback from persons at the grassroots level through local communities’ participation.
He highlighted the fact that Guyana has “made tremendous strides” from 2011, with Guyanese demonstrating a willingness to be involved in decision-making, influencing a change in government for the second time in 50 years.
He said this time government aims at completing the process, since the last attempt at constitutional reform was incomplete.
When asked by reporters if the party will invite the participation of the opposition PPP in the process, Patterson said the main aim of the AFC is to involve the nation at large.
“We want to convince the people. If the PPP decide that they want to hear what the people say, they can do so.”
He said the AFC observed in the past that the PPP had no interest in constitutional reform, and while their failure to participate will not stop its progress, it would be wise for the opposition to join government in moving the process forward.
“They have no appetite for constitutional reform, but they never showed any appetite for defeat either. Things have changed. Either they get up and join the bus for progress or they can stay behind,” Patterson said.
“We as a party want to engage the people because they are the important stakeholders. A small group of politicians should not hold back an entire country’s desire for constitutional reform and change,” Patterson stated.
Meanwhile, Patterson said though the AFC believes there is need for reform of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the party has not pushed the issue because it has a “long list” of other issues to address, and does not want to be distracted from its main focus.
“We don’t want to move anything to displace our priority which is constitutional reform,” he told the press.
Meanwhile, the AFC, he said, has intentions of building a stronger partnership with government’s greater counterpart – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) party through establishing more effective channels of communications – at all levels within both parties.
Patterson highlighted “communication” between party activists at lower levels of its organisation as the coalition’s greatest relationship challenge, and said it has become “the genesis of several of our issues.”
“That has been the genesis of several of our issues. Because I have not been able to meet with them as frequently as I should, they hold on to the last information they would have received,” and the process of disseminating new information within that bracket to reflect changes in decisions is slothful.
He said that the AFC’s national conference will be held before the end of 2016.
“The AFC has demonstrated that it is a small but robust political party capable of public administration and we believe we have performed creditably in that role,” Patterson told the press.
He said the party’s upcoming conference will be a platform for the election of office bearers for the new term, examining of the party’s role and progress in government, reviewing of relations with its coalition partner, evaluating the fulfilment of its manifesto, and advancing the process of documenting the structure and architecture of government under a new constitution from the AFC’s point of view.

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