By Guyana Times,
…insists will select PM after elections
…hours later calls him “my PM candidate”
…embarrassed AFC says President’s statement “gratuitous”, “confusing”
The tit for tat over the coalition’s Prime Ministerial position seems never-ending with the Alliance for Change claiming that their candidate is the substantive choice, while President David Granger claims the right to choose who would serve as his chief minister.
President Granger, on Wednesday, told reporters that he is yet to decide on who his running mate is, although AFC announced Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan as the coalition’s Prime Ministerial candidate.
“We have completed our review of the Cummingsburg Accord and I have started to campaign as you know from the 3rd January with Mr Khemraj Ramjattan who has been nominated by the Alliance For Change. As you said, it is not a constitutional requirement and I have not named a Prime Ministerial candidate but I know what I am going to do and my partners…I reserve the right to choose and nominate a Prime Minister. I will nominate all ministers including the Prime Minister, who is my chief minister after the elections,” Granger said in response to questions posed by reporters.
However, hours later, at a party rally at Hopetown, Region Five, he referred to Ramjattan as his Prime Ministerial candidate. However, at the very rally, Ramjattan was not introduced as the Prime Ministerial candidate but rather simply as AFC leader.
Concerns have been raised as to who is the APNU/AFC coalition’s PM candidate when it launched its campaign on January 3. At the launching, Ramjattan was introduced as Leader of the AFC and not the PM candidate as well as he was noticeably absent from the campaign posters.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Ramjattan told Guyana Times that he has “no comment to make” and promptly disconnected the call.
Meanwhile, AFC later released a statement where it reiterated its position that the President naming the Prime Ministerial candidate is in direct contradiction with provisions of the recently signed Revised Cummingsburg Accord, which embodies the agreements between the two political organisations.
“The assertion that he will choose and nominate the Prime Minister after the election is gratuitous and confusing to our supporters and the wider electorate,” said the General Secretary of the AFC David Patterson.
The statement added that AFC is well aware of the constitutional steps regarding appointments once the election results are known. However, the party said the process does not change the fundamental agreement that the AFC names the Prime Ministerial candidate and have named its leader, Ramjattan.
“Consequently, the AFC is not confused by the comments, which we notice has subsequently been clarified by the General Secretary of APNU. The AFC said it hoped clarity has been brought to the issue, which was carefully considered and agreed during the Cummingsburg Accord discussions,” the statement added.
The AFC and APNU have been at loggerhead over the selection of a Prime Ministerial candidate since the 2015 Cummingsburg Accord gave the PM slot to the AFC.
However, the revised agreement was signed on December 24 but details surrounding the agreement have not been made public. The signing was done at State House, with President David Granger and Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, representing APNU as the party’s Chairman and General Secretary respectively.
On the other hand, the smaller party was represented by Ramjattan (as AFC leader) and Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson (as AFC General Secretary).
Ramjattan was elected at the AFC’s last National Executive Conference to be the PM candidate, effectively overthrowing current Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
There has been much speculation in the public domain on whether the AFC would have been able to reclaim its previous Cummingsburg Accord concessions after its showing at Local Government Elections (LGE) last year. In the revised Accord, AFC seats have been downgraded to a mere 30 per cent of parliamentary seats while the APNU will get 70 per cent. In the previous agreement, AFC had 40 per cent while APNU had 60 per cent.