“Shared governance ultimate solution to Guyana’s fractured politics”

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—WPA says as it continues talks with PNCR on returning to APNU

As it continues talks with the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on its possible return to the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), the Working People’s Alliance said while it strongly believes that shared governance is the ultimate solution to Guyana’s fractured politics, it does not intend to repeat its mistakes.

“While we have not given up on coalitions, we intend to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes again. One lesson that we learned is that partnership with other parties cannot be premised on a “gentleman’s agreement,” Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds told the Village Voice News.

Days after the highly disputed 2020 General and Regional Elections came to an end in August, the WPA withdrew from APNU over the Executive’s failure to consult with it on the selection of its representatives to sit in the National Assembly and on the Region Four Regional Democratic Council (RDC). “The time has come when the WPA is forced to draw a line in the sand and say that enough is enough. Since 2015 there has been no new and progressive dispensation within the APNU and there is no recognition of the rights of the partners to contribute to the decision-making process and more importantly, for each party, not the General Secretary of the PNCR, or its Leader, to determine unilaterally, the allocation of seats to each member party of the APNU for Parliament, RDC and NDC,” WPA’s Secretary, Tacuma Ogunseye told the then Chairman of APNU, David Granger, in a letter.

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Notably, the PNCR is the largest political party within the partnership and its change in Leadership last December saw Granger stepping down as Chairman of APNU last week and Aubrey Norton – the Leader of the PNCR – becoming Chairman.

Earlier this month, the Executive of the PNCR extended an invitation to the WPA, among other parties, to discuss its return to APNU. The meeting, according to Dr. Hinds, was cordial. “The WPA suggested that re-entry to the APNU should be a possible outcome of a series of engagements between the two parties. The PNC delegation agreed to this suggestion and the two sides decided to continue the talks,” Dr. Hinds reported.

LACK OF CONSULTATION
With the meetings still in the embryonic stage, Dr. Hinds said the WPA has not placed any condition on the table thus far. However, he said in moving forward consultation and inclusivity would be key. “…it is known that among other problems the WPA had with the APNU before it left was the issue of adequate consultation. There were hardly any consultations leaving the WPA to learn of APNU decisions in the media.

Other areas of concern were an absence of agreed policy intervention and overall vision, lack of democratic decision-making, failure to implement collective decisions and the right of member parties to determine their representatives to participate in government,” the WPA Executive explained.

It is expected that during meetings between WPA and the PNCR these issues would take center stage.

However, Dr. Hinds said, notwithstanding the issues of the past, the WPA believes that coalition politics is the future of a plural society like Guyana. “We also still hold fast to power sharing or shared governance as the ultimate solution to our fractured politics. It is our view that no single party has all the solutions to our country’s problems. Our adherence to the principle of joint government is reinforced by the need for the country to close ranks in the face of external threats to take advantage of the country’s newly found oil-wealth,” he said.

Dr. Hinds said as a party, the WPA is of the view that it has something to contribute to the country’s development and represents some aspects of national public opinion. As such, it intends to continue to be part of the political architecture of the country. Asked whether the WPA is in support of the Leader of the PNCR becoming a Member of Parliament and ultimately the Opposition Leader, Dr. Hinds said WPA prefers to stay out of the PNCR’s internal affairs.

“We will work with any leadership that the PNC throws up so long as we share similar outlook and minimum core principles that adhere to accepted norms of governance and political culture. Towards that end we avoid comment on the developments around leadership of that party. But we feel that the opposition movement and the base of the constituency stand to benefit from an amicable resolution of the problems therein,” Dr. Hinds told this newspaper.

Heeding to public pressure for him to step down as Leader of the Opposition and pave way for Aubrey Norton – the Leader of the PNCR – to become the Leader, Joseph Harmon, last Wednesday, tendered his resignation, but maintains his seat in the National Assembly as an A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament. But with Norton not being a Member of Parliament, the coalition may be forced to recall one of its MP to allow for Norton to take up a seat in the House. However, the ultimate move has to be made by the Leader of the List of Representatives, David Granger, but the task ahead appears not to be as simple as one may assume as a result of reported disagreements. It is unclear whether, a new Leader of the Opposition would be elected before the Budgetary Debates commence on Monday in the National Assembly.



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