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AFC – Guyana’s Failed Multi-Ethnic Party

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This article was first published on the 11th of May, 2015 by Patrick Carpen.

Last updated: May 11, 2020 at 14:46 pm

According to a US Democracy, Human Rights and Governance Report released in 2016, Guyana has long been plagued by ethnic based politics. One party sought to change that – a multi-ethnic party which campaigned on issues rather than race. At first, the AFC seemed to draw supporters from all of Guyana’s six ethnic groups, as well as the emerging seventh “mixed race.”

The AFC sought to break the curse of ethnic based one-party rule that had plagued Guyana for decades and that ultimately resulted in an oligarchy – a situation in which a small group of people have control over the entire country. In a democracy, it is the people who was supposed to have the power, as Abraham Lincoln expressed it in the Gettysburg Address: that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The AFC sought to address the needs of the people, and bring together entire ethnic groups to solve common problems, but in the end, it ultimately failed, and was dubbed a “rubber stamp.” The AFC was formed by defectors of the two main political parties – such as Rafael Trotman from the PNC and Moses Nagamootoo from the PPP, as well as some new faces.

During their electoral campaigns, these bold politicians criticized both the two main political parties vehemently. However, at their first shot at the polls in 2006, the AFC only garnered enough seats to have a small voice in parliament. This happened again in 2011. But in 2015, for some strange, inexplicable reason, perhaps a lust for power and to be part of a majority government, the AFC joined forces with the PNC led APNU and the two merged into APNU/AFC.

In the 2015 national elections, the APNU/AFC barely managed to scrape a 1 seat majority over the PPP/C and took office. Taking office in 2015, the APNU/AFC had 5 strong years to prove themselves to the people of Guyana and cement their spot in Guyana’s parliament, but they failed miserably.

Within a few months in office, the AFC, who had put the PNC/R in power, was dominated and muzzled by the PNC/R. They apparently had to agree to every decision made by the PNC/R faction of the coalition. One example was where members of the AFC objected to the closing down of several sugar estates but had no say in the matter. Another is the case of when a PNC/R Minister said, “I will only give wuk to PNC…” AFC’s Rafael Trotman came out to defend the statement, but the Minister subsequently apologized, raising further speculations as to whether the AFC really does have the people’s interest at heart.

These and many other cases caused people to question the purpose of the AFC in the coalition to the point where the party was labeled a “rubber stamp.” In December 2018, AFC member Charandass Persaud brought the APNU/AFC government down in a no-condition motion tabled by the PPP/C. After voting against his own government, Mr. Persaud explained that he was sorely disappointed with the maneuvers of the PNC, the sidelining of the AFC in parliamentary affairs and the absolute fact that AFC had become nothing more than “yes men” to the PNC in parliament.

Ironically, AFC stands for Alliance for Change, but the only change they brought about in 2015 was changing themselves from politicians to puppets, and the APNU/AFC was viewed as nothing more than a beautifully clothed PNC/R.

Stay tuned for “blunders of the APNU/AFC government.”

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