Jun 03, 2019
I was feeding my cat when I got a call to come down immediately outside the AFC office to witness the emanations and gesticulations of Imran Khan. Before I could finish tending to my cat, three more calls came in. As I was preparing to leave, two more calls came through – “Freddie, come quickly to see what Imran Khan is doing.”
Last Saturday was nomination day to achieve delegate status for the upcoming biennial congress of the AFC on Saturday, June 15 at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre. The centre of the congress will be the fight between Khemraj Ramjattan and Moses Nagamootoo to clinch the prime ministerial slot for the upcoming general elections.
Under the Cummingsburg Accord, the presidential option goes to the majority party in APNU. That naturally means the PNC. The PM slot is assigned to the AFC. The Cummingsburg Accord lapsed last June and has not been legally or politically renewed.
A strongly placed PNC leader told me he would insist when the time comes not to offer the PM position to the AFC but to a trusted East Indian of the PNC or a non-African sympathetic to the PNC. Under the reality of Guyanese politics, there is an ethnic balance between the president and prime minister.
With the President not possessed of 100 percent fitness, it is doubtful that the PNC will offer the PM position to an AFC Indian. But Ramjattan and Nagamootoo are slugging it out and an open confrontation currently exists between the two contenders that have seen abuse being heaped upon the campaigners of each camp.
Imran Khan is the PR spokesperson for the AFC. He is editor of the party newspaper, the KEY. He sits in the 15 person management committee that meets fortnightly. It runs the AFC between meetings of the executive committee, which meets thrice a year. At the 2017 congress in Vreed-en-Hoop, Khan secured most votes among the contestants for positions on the executive committee.
For a newcomer, this was surprising since he handsomely thrashed some founding members of the party. The key to this explanation lies in the KEY. On the day of the congress, the KEY was distributed to everyone present – delegates and non-delegates, on the lawns of the Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary School. Khan’s picture was on the front page. Delegates who didn’t know him before 2017 now did.
I am not going to publish what Khan was saying in front of the AFC head office last Saturday. Khan threatened to sue me for libel in February 2017 and the only reason a writ was not filed was because at the meeting, one of the AFC leaders got up and cynically intoned, “ If we sue Freddie, people will say Jagdeo sued him, now AFC doing the same.”
These are the kinds of people who I campaigned for in 2015. The torment of this country goes on.
Anyway, back to Khan and what happened last Saturday. Khan stormed out of the AFC head office when he found out that he was not nominated to be a delegate. Nominations closed at 6PM on Saturday evening. Khan then has ignominiously exited the AFC’s leadership. He is not a delegate so he cannot contest any position whatsoever in the AFC’s hierarchy.
How do you explain this? Khan is the lead figure for Nagamootoo’s campaign. He is a Nagamootoo protégé. He heads a team of AFC ranks that works in the PM’s office strategising on winning votes for Nagamootoo at the congress.
His exclusion is part of the tit for tat that is taking place between the Nagamootoo faction and the Ramjattan cabal. For example, one of Ramjattan’s foot soldiers, Arnold Sukhraj, who works within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Security, failed to win enough votes in the Georgetown branch to become a delegate.
From the look of things, Ramjattan is in front. Sherod Duncan, dismissed by Nagamootoo from the Chronicle, has gone over to Ramjattan. He won the chairmanship over a Nagamootoo campaigner, Michael Leonard, last week for chairmanship of the Georgetown group. That is round one for Ramjattan.
Then Nagamootoo’s choice for Region Four Chairman of the AFC lost to a Ramjattan supporter, Amar Chinkhan. That is round two for Ramjattan. Now poor Imran will not be in the courtyard of the Chung Convention Centre to share out the KEY with his face on the front page. That is round three to Ramjattan.
Moses Nagamootoo is an old fox. He has had forty years of experience of PPP rigging their internal party elections. Moses is still in the ring fighting. The old fox will no doubt try to fight back. There are more bouts to come.