APNU prepared to cut AFC loose
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Opposition Leader and Chairman of APNU, Aubrey Norton
Opposition Leader and Chairman of APNU, Aubrey Norton

–‘We won’t beg anyone to stay,’ says Norton

DAILY revelations from respective press conferences of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) underscore how deeply fractured the relationship between the two sides is.

During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, APNU Chairman and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton boldly announced that his party does not intend “to beg anyone to stay in the coalition.”

“We all have to live with what the reality is. If they decide to go their way, so be it,” Norton said.

Last Friday, Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan confirmed that his party will be parting ways with the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), thereby putting “the final nail in the coffin” for the coalition.

The announcement comes ahead of the December 31 end of the Cummingsburg Accord, the agreement which governs the coalescing of the two individual parties.

However, Norton shared that while the AFC felt certain enough of its upcoming exit to make an announcement to the press, it has not officially notified the APNU of the imminent exit.

“The AFC has not communicated to us this decision. We read what was being said in the press and we know today. I saw in the press that the leader of the AFC said that he will engage me at some stage. I will wait for that engagement; we will make the decision on the issue if it comes to fruition,” Norton said.

Asked if the APNU would take steps to recall the AFC parliamentarians when the split becomes effective, Norton would only say that the APNU would consider all its options.

“I don’t know what the options are at this time. The options will be dependent at the announcement at the time and the situation at the time this announcement [appears] in the press. They haven’t said anything to the APNU as yet,” Norton said.

According to the Cummingsburg Accord, the AFC got 30 per cent of the seats secured by the coalition in the National Assembly based on a new 70:30 ratio agreed upon.

The formula will also guide the allocation of seats at the level of the Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs). This marked a reduced allocation for the AFC from the 60:40 allocations that was agreed upon in the initial agreement between the two sides.

The AFC continued to lose support, and there have been reports of a reduction in membership, as many believe that the party has lost its voice and its way.

The AFC has been reduced to begging the People’s National Congress (PNC), the main party in the coalition, to honour agreements at the local government level to have AFC candidates in top positions.

The latest such example is in Linden, where the PNC has rejected the AFC’s candidate to fill the post of Vice-Chairman of Region 10.

This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg as regards the issues facing the coalition, as Ramjattan confirmed on Friday that the relationship has had its fair share of problems.

Chairperson of the AFC, Cathy Hughes, said that only about three months ago in a formal meeting, a number of the problems and issues on which the parties did not agree were discussed.

In August 2020, the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) had left the APNU, citing several violations of the principles governing coalition politics by the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R), the largest party in the APNU.

The WPA accused the PNCR of imposing decisions on the rest of the APNU members. In September 2020, another key member- the Justice For All Party (JFAP) — also left the coalition.

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