By Staff Writer
Former Public Infrastructure Minister and Alliance for Change (AFC) Executive Member, David Patterson should resign as Coalition Member of Parliament or stop ‘undermining’ the very coalition he claims to represent, says Rickford Burke, the President of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID).
Burke, who has been very critical of the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), wrote in a Facebook post that “some people in the AFC have perennially undermined the coalition as a conflict resolution measure. They are irresponsible politicians. The AFC is responsible for bringing down the coalition government.”
It was former AFC Member Charandass Persaud who voted in favour of the PPP/C to oust the David Granger-led A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) regime back in 2018 in a highly contentious no-confidence motion that triggered snap elections in March 2020. That election went on to become the longest electoral process recorded in Guyana’s history following five months of protests, litigation, and political stalemate that warranted the intervention of the then Chairperson of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley. A national recount followed and elections results were finally announced in August 2020, with the PPP/C emerging victorious.
Burke said that it is “disgraceful” that although the AFC “helped” engineer the coalition out of government, David Patterson and some of his party’s “minions” in Region Four, “continue to undermine the coalition in the most despicable and reprehensible manner”.
He added that Patterson and his party’s Region Four Councilors are attempting to do to the APNU+AFC coalition administration in Region Four, “exactly what Charrandass did in Parliament to the coalition government”.
“They are determined to collude with the PPP to use Charrandass’ no-confidence motion technique, to unlawfully bring down the PNCR/APNU Chairman and Vice Chairman of Region Four.”
Burke’s accusation comes on the heels of AFC Councilors tabling no-confidence motions against APNU members on the council.
But Patterson responded, saying that Burke may very well be “unaware” of the facts surrounding the appointment of Regional Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen in the RDCs won by the coalition.
Patterson said that before the extraction of candidates for regional councilors for the 10 RDCs, discussions commenced between the members of the coalition on the chairmanship and vice chairmanship of the RDCs where APNU+AFC held the majority.
These discussions culminated with a meeting on September 25. In attendance were the Chairman of APNU (and Leader of the PNC), the General Secretary of APNU as well as the Leader and General Secretary of the AFC. In a document prepared by APNU, which was an amendment to the Cummingsburg Accord, it was agreed that AFC will support APNU candidates for Chairmanship of regions Four and Seven, likewise, APNU committed to supporting AFC candidates for the Vice Chairmanship of these regions.
Guyana Standard understands that the agreement was communicated to the membership of AFC, and immediately invoked strong objections from AFC members, particularly in Region Seven.
Patterson said that before the RDC elections, the AFC had already received word that moves were afoot by APNU not to honor the signed agreement. Patterson said that he was tasked with ensuring that AFC RDC members honor the signed agreement.
The AFC member said that his party colleagues, despite their reservations, agreed to honor the agreement. In fact, it was an AFC member who seconded the nomination of the current Chairman and all six AFC members voted in support of the RDC Chairman.
Having secured the AFC’s support for Chairman, Patterson said that the APNU “not unexpectedly”, nominated one of their members for the position of vice-chairman.
The AFC formally objected to these actions to the leadership of APNU. After launching an internal inquiry, the Chairman of APNU formally responded indicating that the happenings at the elections were “an act of misadventure” and would be addressed. Given this undertaking, Patterson said that AFC regional councilors agreed to participate fully in the running of the council for the benefit of its citizens and the Coalition.
Notwithstanding another commitment and the long list of areas that needed to be addressed, there was no effort at resolution and No-Confidence motions were subsequently filed against the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the RDC of Region Four.
Subsequent to the filing of these motions of No Confidence, a meeting with the Leader and General Secretary of AFC and APNU was held on August 30, 2021, where it was agreed that a bipartisan committee would be established to address the challenges within that RDC.
On August 31, 2021, draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the bi-partisan committee was circulated and the TOR was agreed by both parties on September 2, 2021. The general conditions of the TOR were that a preliminary report is submitted on September 6 and a final report on September 10, for implementation of the recommendations.
A draft final report was submitted by the bi-partisan committee and was under active discussion. One of the recommendations was for the leadership of the parties to resolve the issue of the Region Four Vice chairmanship. The Leader of the PNC announced on September 17, that he was proceeding on a leave of absence, and that he has instructed the PNC Chairwoman to address the contents of the report – as such, a request was made and agreed for a revised deadline for implementation of the recommendation to be extended to September 20, 2021.
The bi-partisan committee issued its final report on September 23, 2021, and by mutual agreement between the parties the final implementation, the date was extended to September 30, 2021.
The PNC Chairwoman subsequently requested a further extension until October 13, 2021, because she was now being acquainted with the issues and needed guidance from the party’s Central Executive Committee.
The AFC declined to agree to any further extensions, on the grounds that this issue was a publicly known grievance for over a year.
A motion of No Confidence was issued against the Regional Vice-Chairman of RDC Four on October 6, 2021.
Patterson says that the AFC remains committed to an alliance of cooperation and combined action for the people of Guyana, which must be based on inclusivity, respect, transparency, and trust – all aspects of good governance.