Jan 03, 2019
An email from Alliance for Change (AFC) frontliner and Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman, has confirmed Charrandass Persaud’s claim that the AFC has become a YES-man party, to the A Partnership for National Unity’s leadership in the coalition.
The email, written prior to Local Government Elections, was sent to AFC members. It describes Trotman’s disgruntlement with the nature of the party’s relationship with APNU. Because of this disgruntlement, Trotman wrote about his suggestion that the AFC should take control of the coalition because, as he put it, “our coalition partner is in a weakened state”.
It reads, “My dear colleagues, I have chosen to write you directly about the matter of the 2019 Budget and its implications for the AFC, 2020, and well beyond. I have been thinking about this for some time and have shared aspects with some of you, but thought it best to hold off until LGE was dealt with”
“Even though the elections are tomorrow, in many respects, they are finished and I believe that we urgently need to turn our attention to the 2019 Budget as grave decisions will be made during the week. Without sounding dramatic, these decisions will very likely affect the entire coalition and the AFC is now positioned to lead this process.”
He wrote that the coalition, in its endeavors, has failed “to operate as a single cohesive unit”. He further wrote that though the coalition is diverse, it has not wielded that diversity well. “Attempting to govern in an orthodox manner has hindered [the government] from making bold and transformative steps,” and that nothing about the 2015 campaign was meant to function in an orthodox manner.
He urged the AFC members to switch gears and take advantage of 2019 because he believed that time is on their side, since 2020 is the year when petroleum production is slated to begin.
Not knowing that the AFC would face such a devastating loss at LGE, Trotman wrote that that he believed the AFC “has undoubtedly received a “bounce” from this campaign, and the initiative is with us and must be acted on at once. I need not underscore that our coalition partner is in a weakened state and so whether deliberately or by default, the ball is in our court and has to be played.”
“I believe that the budget is the opportunity for us to make some gains, and in the circumstances, propose that we use our presence at Cabinet, and outside of it, to advance a new agenda. I propose further that we engage the WPA (Working People’s Alliance) and even a few civil society groups as needed.”
In the email, Trotman laid out a list of demands the party would make to APNU, in exchange for the AFC’s support for budget 2019: “… unless we get these items, we should not support the budget.”
The demands included “a clear and time bound pathway to constitutional reforms,” including the passage of reform legislation by the first quarter of 2019 “to address the draconian sentencing legislation for marijuana convictions” and “a definitive agreement that there shall be equitable and constitutionally guaranteed benefit-sharing from proceeds of petroleum and other natural resources for Guyanese citizens, made for the urgent formalization and finalization of a land tenure, immigration and local content policy.”
Trotman also wanted “social impact programme for sugar workers and displaced bauxite workers; together with a master plan for agro-processing and mining sustainability.”
He said that a “Social Contract with public servants, members of the disciplined forces and youth” is needed, and that, though he doesn’t think all lands applied for by indigenous communities could be granted, “the delay in granting them is an injustice.”
Hence, he wanted to demand a “settling of the Amerindian Land titling issue in the national interest.”
This information sheds new light on the relationship between the APNU and AFC, who have been publicly decrying any claim that the coalition is insecure. It was Charrandass Persaud who brought that relationship under the public spectacle when he voted in support of the motion of no-confidence against the government, then told members of the media, after the vote, that the AFC had become YES-men to the APNU.