THE leadership of the small Alliance For Change (AFC) party moved Monday to stem widespread reports about a serious internal rift that was caused by its not sticking with its intention to rotate the leadership based on an agreed principle. The crisis gripping the AFC emanated from a failure to honour an agreement to rotate the leadership between Raphael Trotman and Khemraj Ramjattan and there were reports of Ramjattan threatening to resign from the party over this issue.
However, political observers said the AFC press conference on Monday created more doubts since it failed to categorically announce Ramjattan as the new leader based on the rotation principle.
Analysts said the infighting is so intense that it jeopardises the future of the AFC, pointing to the departure of two key members, Peter Ramsaroop and Gomattie Singh and others as examples to support their contention.
Sources said the press conference at the Sidewalk Café in Georgetown was clearly meant to downplay reported differences between Trotman and Ramjattan who promised to endorse each other to rotate the leadership.
They noted that the AFC leadership rushed to present a united front at the press conference by putting up the Ramjattan presidential candidacy with Trotman when such a decision was earlier put back to later this year.
They noted too that at least one other senior member, Mr. Michael Carrington, has said that he wants to be considered as the AFC presidential candidate and that the decision should be made by the party.
Signals of deepening disenchantment came also with the announcement Monday that Ramsaroop, the former AFC Chief Executive Officer, had resigned as a party member.
Businessman Ramsaroop told the Kaieteur News he cancelled his membership with the AFC because “they do not support a united opposition which must include the PNC (People’s National Congress Reform).”
He claimed that Ramjattan’s previous stand that he will never work with the PNCR was a slap in the face of good people of the party.
“The AFC on its own cannot win an election…I will work again with the AFC when we all sit at the table, including the PNC, and determine a way forward along with civil society”, he offered.
Ramsaroop, named in a police complaint about planting secret video recording cameras in an apartment he rented to a 19-year-old female, said he does not feel that Ramjattan displays the leadership skills needed to be the presidential candidate and the rejection by the masses over the years puts the AFC now in a catch up position since the intended rotation has been announced.
Asked Monday about his previous expressed concern about the AFC forging an alliance with the PNCR, Ramjattan said: “there are some international factors…I have come around to the position, that if you want, largely, to get the largest block, there must be a larger block than the AFC.”
On how the party intended to deal with the perception that PNCR Leader Robert Corbin may be an obstacle to a successful opposition alliance, Ramjattan suggested that there will always be the perception that certain personalities would be negative for the larger efforts of advancing alliances and felt that the way to go was to negotiate the best set of leaders to work along with.
Trotman said the AFC’s bid for an opposition alliance was not one of personalities but of principles and programmes. He said the programme to take Guyana forward will first have to be outlined and persons will then fit themselves in.
Trotman is a former senior PNCR member and parliamentarian who defected to form his own party while Ramjattan is a defector from the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
The AFC is now seeking to merge with the PNCR after bitter differences earlier this year when Trotman accused PNCR leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, of being in secret talks with President Bharrat Jagdeo on a shared governance agreement for the 2011 elections.
Trotman flatly declared then that the AFC was not discussing an alliance with the PNCR but Corbin said the two parties have had several meetings, discussions and consultations on the issue.