href=”2005-11-19.htm”>Our eventual withdrawal will be on our terms


By Raphael Trotman Saturday, November 19th


Since the launch of the AFC in October, there

has been a heavy and sustained attack on the movement from all angles and for

all sorts of reasons. However, these attacks have not been able to penetrate

the wall of support for the AFC that has emerged since its launching.

There is widespread speculation as to the

possible relationships, if any, with other political parties, and in

particular, with the self-styled "Guyana Third Force Platform" (GTF).

The relationship between the AFC and the GTF is one of the beachheads which

have been opened up by agent provocateurs to ensure that we are divided and

therefore easily conquerable. The AFC is on record to have stated that it

wanted to launch itself formally as a movement before entering into

deliberations with others. This was made pellucid at the now famous Le Meridien

gathering and was whole-heartedly accepted by all. To do otherwise would have

been to enter into an asymmetrical situation that any student of strategy would

have cautioned against. This would not have augured well for the building of

alliances or partnerships which the AFC has accepted as essential to achieving

a new political dispensation for


Since those discussions, there has been much

ado about nothing as we parried over websites, personalities and seating

arrangements. At the end of the day, the AFC does not view the others with any

less respect than it does itself. Some misguided souls have apparently

quarrelled about the seating arrangements put in place for the leaders of the

GTF umbrella at the launch, and others complained most ridiculously, about the

fact that the AFC went ahead to name it’s Presidential and Prime Ministerial

candidates. It must be considered a personal affront for anyone to try to

dictate to the AFC, what it should or should not do regarding its own internal

arrangements and structures. The reality is that if one were to ask Joe and Jane

Public who are the presidential candidates of GAP, WPA, ROAR, Unity Party,

JFAP, the answer would have been unhesitatingly provided.

What we need to do is move away from petty

political posturing and earnestly address the core issue that most Guyanese want

dealt with: – Will there be a coming together between the AFC and the GTF? Or

between the AFC and parts of what now constitutes the GTF? Trust and a basic

platform of common principles and understanding are what are needed in any

situation in which more than two persons are expected to work together. We need

for example to define specifically what it is we are pursuing: – Is it for

example an end to instability leading to a new democratic process? Or is it to

promote another period of crisis, confusion and chaos? The AFC would not have

any part to play in promoting such situations.

The AFC remains ready, willing, and able to

meet any group, provided that the necessary preparatory work for the meeting

takes place and there is an agreed agenda. The last thing the AFC wishes to see

happen, is to disappoint the nation with a failed process resembling the PPP/C

and PNCR dialogue, which ended with the infamous "you are not my

equal" utterance. To act otherwise would be to stage a "pappy show".

The AFC cannot subscribe to any attempt to

avoid the holding of free, fair, fearless, and transparent elections in 2006.

There is a widely held belief that there is a plan afoot to subvert the holding

of elections next year and to bring things to a point where an interim government

will have to be installed. In the view of the AFC, such an outcome would impose

further pain and suffering on our beloved

w:st=”on”>Guyana, perhaps even leading to

complete socio-economic paralysis.

Promoting a National Front Government could

only gain credibility and acceptance if all the important players and

stakeholders voluntarily accept this as the best alternative. Forcing, or

imposing, such an ad hoc arrangement will not work. Already, the AFC’s name has

come up as being a member of a high-profiled team that travelled to

w:st=”on”>Washington recently to

promote this very point of view. The AFC categorically and publicly

disassociates itself from any such points of view and associations.

Then there is the issue of the seats of

Parliament, where to date, the only member of the GTF that has taken a position

is the WPA because it is the one directly involved in this now interesting and

unprecedented matter. It is beyond any shadow of doubt that there is no legal

and/or constitutional provision that can see the removal of the so-called

"rebel" MP’s. What is left is the moral issue being trumpeted by all

and sundry; some of whom if we are to call a spade a spade, have serious moral

issues of their own.

The notion of democracy has come a far way

since the promulgation of the Magna Carta in 1215, and the declaration of our

own Independence

in 1966. Many have heard of the "Separation of Powers" but few,

especially those in office today, really care to endorse and promote its true

meaning. The latest indecent assault on democracy is being witnessed with the

introduction of the proposed High Court (Amendment) Bill which seeks to denude

and degut the hallowed office of Chief Justice by the executive. Yet, there are

those who are prepared to argue its uprightness whilst not seeing the argument

about three parliamentary seats. Where is the separation if our judges and

elected representatives cannot be insulated from executive and party control

and manipulation?

In 2003 at the Commonwealth Heads of

Government Meeting in Nigeria

at which Guyana

was amply represented, the "Latimer House Principles" were adopted as

being the standard by which democracy shall be measured and judged throughout

the length and breadth of the Commonwealth and amongst its 1.8 billion citizens

in the 53 territories. At the time of their adoption, His Excellency, the Right

Honourable Don McKinnon, the Commonwealth Secretary General was moved to

expressing the sanguine expectation of the Commonwealth’s citizens and their

political representatives:

"What we now wish to see is the sharing

of best practices and dissemination of agreed values and principles. This will

enable member countries to move to that optimum state of governance which is

predicated on the rule of law in our Commonwealth member states."

Interestingly, at the Nigeria Summit the

Heads of State including ours thought it important to address the vexed and

important question of the independence of Members of Parliament and included in

the declaration the following text:


style=’font:7.0pt “Times New Roman”‘>    

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1688 is reaffirmed.

This article provides:


style=’font:7.0pt “Times New Roman”‘>    

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>Security of members during their parliamentary term is

fundamental to parliamentary independence and therefore:

"That the Freedom of Speech and Debates

or Proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any

court or place out of Parliament."

a) The expulsion of members from parliament

as a penalty for leaving their parties (crossing the floor) should be viewed as

a possible infringement of members’ independence; anti-defection measures may

be necessary in some jurisdictions to deal with corrupt practices;

b) Laws allowing for the recall of members

during their elected term should be viewed with caution, as a potential threat

to the independence of members;

c) The cessation of membership of a political

party of itself should not lead to the loss of a member’s seat."

The above then sets out the new democratic

governance principles that this, and all other governments within the

Commonwealth, except of course those under suspension, have endorsed and

committed themselves to observing and preserving. The issue of the independence

of Members of Parliament is on trial as much here in

w:st=”on”>Guyana, as it is in every other

Commonwealth territory.

How this matter ends, or is resolved, will

have far-reaching consequences to the democratic edifice everywhere. The

"rebels" of Guyana and interestingly enough, those as well in the

twin-Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, who are fighting the over forty

years of established party dominance, are now being viewed with interest, as

their fate will become a watershed for the people’s representatives the world

over, and most importantly, in countries with repressive governments and

suffocating political parties.

The people of

w:st=”on”>Guyana have been so poisoned with

the bile of party paramountcy and democratic centralism that it is now

difficult to separate a Member of Parliament from a political party. The

people’s best interests as envisioned in the Latimer House Principles are what

we in the AFC are being asked to surrender. It is understandable why even the

most ardent supporters of the AFC want to see us purified through the act of

quitting. In a sense therefore, members of Parliament associated with the AFC

are faced with a difficult decision of taking the prophylactic walking pill, or

of staying and building up enough anti-bodies to fight the fever itself.

That said, it must be accepted that the AFC’s

and its supporters’ interests must be catered for. In this light, the populace

can rest assured that the right decision will be taken at the right time.

The decisions regarding the parliamentary

seats will be taken not based on issues of legality or tenuous moral arguments,

but on practical political reasoning. At this time, I for reasons more to do

with getting the work of the AFC moving in time for the events of 2006 will be

making preparations for my departure in the not too distant future. Having

committed myself to resign, I will be doing so long before the elections, but

it has to be recognized that despite my silence in the House there is

unfinished business particularly in preparing the Freedom of Information Bill

and it would have been unwise to bend simply to the unreasonable demands of

those whom we are likely to encounter on the battlefield in a few short months.

Our eventual withdrawal will be on our terms, on our time, and on our own

supporters’ accord.

I posit that most third party initiatives in

w:st=”on”>Guyana, and

elsewhere failed, not because the giants crushed them, but rather because of

the crab-in-abarrel mentality and mischievousness, which did the destruction

from within, coming from persons sometimes posing as closest supporters and

admirers. I say, let’s give working together a try in

w:st=”on”>Guyana‘s best

interest, and stop the promotion of divisiveness. Instead of carrying on a

debate on morality and legality, let us engage in a discussion on matters of

practicality as Bernard Ramsay and others have suggested on what is in the

AFC’s best interest.

2005-11-15: An expelled AFC

member could keep his parliamentary seat… By Khemraj Ramjattan Tuesday, November

15th 2005

Mr Raymond Gaskin, my very good friend, the

answer to your question is obvious. (SN, 10.11.05 ‘Will a member of the AFC who

is expelled be able to keep his seat?’) Absolutely! An expelled AFC member or

one who dissociates will be able to keep his seat. No AFC leader or organ will

be in any position to disqualify such a dissenting MP.

You see Raymond, it is like having picked your

11 best players to play in a Test Match, expecting all to perform well. In

mid-match one does not. He drops 5 simple catches and gets bowled for a duck

first innings. The selectors cannot drop him and put in another player for the

second innings; he has to play through the entire Test. And this would be the

case, of course, until there is a change of the rules of the game.

In identical terms, the present arrangement

under Guyana‘s

Constitution and all relevant laws on this issue cannot realise a disqualification

on any MP on such a ground that the electors do not like him any more.

Such a dissenting, dissociating MP must be

permitted to serve out his constitutional period, unless, of course, he decides

to vacate earlier. If a change of this scenario is required, then like in the

cricket analogy, the rules governing Parliamentary disqualification must be


To begin with, who should make the call that

such dissenting MP should be disqualified? The Leader of the List? This will be

most objectionable, and would be legalising party-leader paramountcy. Why

should he have such a power when the electors may very well find favour with

such a rebellious MP? Should not the ultimate power of recall be with electors?

Quite frankly this is where I believe it should reside. But in a PR electoral

system, it would be almost impossible to effectuate.

And it is precisely because such amended

rules will be very difficult to implement in the context of a Proportional

Representational electoral system, that the fall-back position in the

constitutional reform process was article 156(3). And what is this article

saying? It is emphatically asserting that it is the MP, and he alone, who has

the power to disqualify himself! Any reading of that article 156(3) must mean

that the final decision as to vacating the seat rests on the MP. This was where

the constitutional reform process rested it, in view of the difficulty of

resting it elsewhere. And which MP, if he does not want to vacate his seat,

will ever declare in the prescribed manner?

Mr Ramotar gives the impression that it is a

technicality that the form of this declaration has not yet been drafted. It is

the meaninglessness of whatever form the declaration takes, and the easy escape

route from its application that it has not yet been drafted! But even if it

were, any sensible MP who wants to keep his seat will avoid such a declaration.

This is all he has to do – avoid it. If he wants to vacate, he makes the

prescribed declaration and says goodbye.

Let me say this. All these arguments were

gone through with Mr Ramotar when consideration was being given to the question

of whether Mr Nadir should cross over or not. Mr Nadir and the TUF, unlike the

AFC, had a list in accordance with article 156(3). Changing his seat over with

the PPP can be regarded as conduct tantamount to supporting another list. Yet

Mr Ramotar never found Mr Nadir’s conduct unconstitutional or immoral. What


Finally, I want Mr Ramotar to know that his

use of Rosa Parks and the apartheid-system instances to buttress his timid,

flawed argumentation against my stand on the Parliamen-tary issue was wholly

out of place, and without logical relevance. Rosa Parks and Mandela are heroes

of mine. They fought against systems purporting to be lawful and moral, but

which were wholly unlawful and immoral. My sitting in Parliament is totally

lawful. Neither you nor anyone else can shift me from there! My fight to keep

my seat may just be that spark to give the impetus to destroy party paramountcy

and democratic centralism. Try to make sense next time, Donald, and don’t

attempt a Stella!


href=”2005-11-13.htm”>Govt tables bill to weaken post of Chief Justice (Stabroek


Sunday, November 13th 2005

The government has proposed amendments to the

laws to relieve the Chief Justice of a number of duties, including the

allocation of all court business, in what some see as a move that will weaken

the office and could lead to administrative problems.

The High Court (Amendment) Bill 2005 which

was tabled on Thursday would, if passed, remove a number of the administrative

duties from the Chief Justice in whom they have been long vested and give them

to the Chancellor.

Stabroek News was unable to get a comment

from Attorney General Doodnauth Singh (in whose name the bill was tabled) on

the reasons behind it, and already there is speculation as to the government’s

motives, particularly in the light of the current impasse on the Chancellor’s


The bill seeks to confer the powers vested in

the Chief Justice under Sections 66, 76 and 77 of the High Court Act on the

Chancellor. According to the bill’s explanatory memorandum, these powers are to

determine the distribution of the business before the court; to assign any

judicial duty to any judge; to direct the sitting of the full court in more

than one division; and to assign a third judge to sit on a hearing by the full

court on appeal, where the Chancellor thinks there are any special grounds that

the full court should be composed of three judges.

The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) council will

be meeting on Tuesday to come up with its official position on the matter, GBA

President Joseph Harmon said yesterday. He said he only learnt of the bill when

a member of parliament brought it to his attention on Friday, the day after it

was tabled in the House and there was no opportunity for members to make their

positions clear. His initial reaction to the bill, however, was to see it as an

attempt to consolidate in the hands of one person what is really the powers of

two people.

But former Bar President and MP Khemraj

Ramjattan did not mince words on the amendment, which he said ought to be

withdrawn. He saw it as "a ruthless attempt to take away the powers of the

Chief Justice and to give it to someone else who the government feels

comfortable with." More than that, he also thought the amendment would

impinge on the constitution, which sets out certain duties for both the Chief

Justice and the Chancellor. Ramjattan said "to denude… the Chief

Justice’s powers is literally to make the Chief Justice a puisne judge in

effect." He went further to say that the bill would in essence

"abolish" the office of the Chief Justice. "What is a Chief

Justice if not the person who allocates the matters…?" he asked rhetorically.

Ramjattan said his initial feelings on the

bill were that it was improperly motivated and in some respects

unconstitutional. He said "it smacks of interference with the independence

of the judiciary," and as both lawyer and MP he hoped that all

parliamentarians would adhere to the doctrine of separation of powers "and

not allow partisan party politics to pass this bill."

Another attorney and MP, Basil Williams, also

thought the amendment would reduce the Chief Justice’s post to nothing more than

a ceremonial title, and could be a move towards doing away with the office.

"What is to happen to the office of the Chief Justice? It becomes

impotent," he noted, while also taking the view that holders of the post

would in essence be just regular judges.

Also, having considered the implications of

the proposed amendment he did not see how it would serve the already

overburdened judiciary by placing the entire administrative workload on the

shoulders of just one office holder. "It doesn’t make sense to me. Right

now, with the Chief Justice alone, we have had a lot of problems and people are

dissatisfied with the way things are and now you will take all the

administrative power to one office?" he said.

Like Ramjattan, Williams also felt that the

amendment was not in keeping with the spirit and intent of the constitution

given the role envisaged by its drafters.

Williams noted too that the amendment had

implications for the current consultations between the President and the

Opposition Leader for the appointment of a Chancellor and Chief Justice. In

this regard, he said, the amendment would amount to "a shifting the

goalposts" during the talks. Indeed, the tabling of the bill comes as the

consultations between President Bharrat Jagdeo and Opposi-tion Leader Robert

Corbin remain open after more than six months. Since their first meeting Jagdeo

has publicly stated that Chief Justice Carl Singh is his candidate to fill the

Chancellor’s vacancy but he has not scheduled a follow-up meeting with Corbin,

saying that a committee is searching for an ideal Chief Justice candidate.

Justice Claudette Singh, who was passed over for the post of Chief Justice the

last time it fell vacant, has been named among the leading candidates for it

now. Observers suspect that the amendment is intended to dilute the powers of

the Chief Justice in the event that Chief Justice Carl Singh is appointed

Chancellor, along with a Chief Justice that the government does not look

favourably on.

Under the revised constitution, neither of

the appointments can be made unless the Opposition Leader agrees.

2005-11-05: Exposing a

benign paramountcy in the National Assembly – another national tragedy


By Khemraj Ramjattan Saturday, November

5th 2005

(MPs Khemraj Ramjattan and Raphael Trotman do

monthly columns for Stabroek News on a topic of their choice)

In my address at the launch of the AFC last

Saturday I argued the case that the continued presence in the National Assembly

of Trotman, Holder and myself, until such time as we individually decide to

leave, if ever we so decide, is wholly constitutional and moral. The Telfords

and Stellas and Bakrs disagreed. I respect their position and will fight to the

very end to safeguard their right to so express their opinion.

My position on the constitutionality and

legality of our present status cannot be questioned. It is supported by the

Speaker of the House who ruled that he has no jurisdiction to throw out Raphael

upon Mr. Corbin’s application to have him disqualified. Earlier, when the PPP

after my expulsion wanted me out, he had similarly ruled.

Moreover, the Learned Chief Justice Carl

Singh in an application to disqualify Manzoor Nadir, who crossed the floor from

The United Force to the PPP/C, ruled that there is nothing unconstitutional about

such conduct and dismissed the application.

Legal opinion sought by the President from a

famous Guyanese lawyer, who straddles the highest courts in the

w:st=”on”>Caribbean and the Privy Council of London, supports this


Now if such a position as ours in the AFC is

legal and no way constitutionally improper how can it be immoral? Legal

propriety is generally synonymous with morality. I suppose the argument will

just get down to a subjectivist realm.

There needs to be a re-emphasis of certain

points I made at the launch, and an emphasis of an additional few.

Firstly, the concept of Parliamentary

democracy which is at the foundation of the electoral system focuses on

peoples’ power and peoples’ interest; not party’s power and party’s interest. A

party is simply the vehicle to getting worthy members through a list system

into that destination called the National Assembly. Once that destination is

reached, through a combination of election – by the electorate, and selection –

by the leader of the list, such members of the National Assembly become

representatives of the people and defenders of the constitution and the

national interest.

Members of the National Assembly who

understand this will ensure a greater efficacy of the Assembly. It is because

on vital issues, on matters that really matter, members see themselves not as

the peoples’ representatives, but as puppets of a party, that that authentic

Parliamentary culture we want in our country is devastated. This is why those

who make the call do not realise that they are unconsciously subscribers to the

doctrines of party paramountcy and democratic centralism.

Additionally, members of the National

Assembly have constitutional rights which do not fade into oblivion upon entry

into that august body. My appointment as an MP never entailed a restriction or

subjugation of my right to associate, which includes my right to dissociate, or

my right to express dissenting views. Service in the National Assembly is not

and cannot be premised on the deprivation of or restriction on my fundamental

rights to freely express myself and to freely associate/disassociate.

Consequently, the call by party leaders,

columnists and letter writers for us to vacate our seats clearly demonstrates

what contempt they have for our constitutional rights to disassociate and


Paradoxically, in taking the stance we have,

we are defending not only our individual fundamental rights but also those of

each and every member of the National Assembly extracted from their respective

party’s lists. It is the sacred duty of each and every Member of the Assembly

to stand with us in defence of the constitutional right of each and every

member to freedom of association and to free _expression. If they are unwilling

to defend their own interest, they hardly can be expected to defend the public

interest and the constitutional rights of the ordinary citizens.

Much more than the skirts of the PNC and the

PPP is being revealed. The extent to which these parties have subjugated, or

are seeking to subjugate, constitutional rights of Parliamentarians to narrow

party interests is now being exposed.

Having exercised our freedom to dissociate

and dissent from our respective parties, and to associate with and express

support for the AFC, can never mean that our vote in the National Assembly on

whatever issue will not be one in the national interest.

Standing up for fundamental rights, and

sacrificing the party’s interest for the national interest, can hardly be

classified as politically immoral. Party sycophancy is antithetical to

political morality. But it may just be that party sycophancy has cultivated its

own peculiar moral values in its conscious or unconscious adherents.

By the way, is not this exactly what Manzoor

Nadir did? Was he immoral? Was the PPP/C aiding and abetting immorality when

they took him on board? Why this moral outrage from the PNC now when it

benefited from similar cross-overs by Parliamentarians like Teekah and

Chandisingh? Wilbert Telford, was the PNC immoral when it caused so many

PPPites to cross over to its side of the House? Or is it moral only when

Parliamen-starians come into these parties’ fold; but not when Parliamentarians

abandon such parties to form their own? What hypocrisy!

Finally, let me say that all the recommendations

of the various experts will mean nothing, absolutely nothing, if an

appreciation of this approach to Parliamentary democracy is missed by

Parliamentarians. They will remain stultified in their growth as defenders and

promoters of the national interest; they will remain just as their parties’

controlling cabals want them to be, mere glorifiers of party interests. This

was the genesis of Burnhamism. We must prevent a reincarnation of this

despicable system

So my message to my colleagues in the

National Assembly will go something like this:

"Parliamentarians unite – you have only

your Party shackles to lose".

2005-11-03: The messages

delivered at the launching were impressive

style=’font-size:13.5pt;color:blue’>(Stabroek News)


By Haemwattie Ragnauth Thursday, November

3rd 2005

Dear Editor,

I happened to attend the inauguration of the

Alliance For Change (AFC) at the Ocean View Convention Centre on October 29,


The launching of this new political movement

has created political history in

w:st=”on”>Guyana. There was not only a packed

auditorium but a mixture of races including members of the diplomatic

community, businessmen and women, academicians and people from various walks of

life. The messages delivered by the co-leaders of the AFC, Raphael Trotman and

Khemraj Ramjattan were very comprehensive and impressive. The other members of

the steering committee are all persons of integrity and moral values. I have no

doubt these distinguished characters will bring about a change to the politics

of Guyana.

Many persons at the launching including myself

were impressed when the audience was introduced to the team of the AFC steering

committee. I have no doubt that after its launching, shock-waves must have gone

through the spine of the two major political parties. For more than forty years

Guyanese were taught only to be loyal to their respective parties and leaders

and not to their country and citizens. As a result of this, their very

existence has been shattered. The time has now come when Guyanese are conscious

and they reflect how they have been kept in bondage by the two major political

parties whose mottos are the same, divide and rule.

It’s time for change. Change is the key to

success and prosperity of this land. So let’s do it now.

Yours faithfully,

Haemwattie Ragnauth

style=’font-size:13.5pt;color:#0031FF’>2005-11-02: These two young men should

be protected (Stabroek


By Rakesh Rampertab Wednesday, November

2nd 2005

Dear Editor,

Now that the AFC is a political party, I wish

to say something that is appropriate and very important: Mr. Raphael Trotman

and Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan must be protected. To the entire group of people

surrounding them, one would hope that you are security-conscious at all times.

The WPA was warned to ‘guard Rodney from assassination’ by many people

including CLR James. Obviously, they failed. Obviously,



we all paid dearly, including the

accomplished hangmen who killed him.

So let me say it again, the people of

w:st=”on”>Guyana must

protect these two young men. The hangmen may have changed their ugly masks, but

the rope is still the same. Yours faithfully, Rakesh Rampertab

2005-10-31: Retain your

seats so you can serve Guyanese in Parliament

style=’font-size:13.5pt;color:blue’>(Stabroek News)


Monday, October 31st 2005

Dear Editor,

I do hope that the new thinking and the new

way of doing things promised by the Alliance for

Change will, at all times and in all places, seek to espouse the paramountcy of


over and above the paramountcy of the party, be it the PNC/R or PPP/C. We ought

to remember that parliamentarians have sworn allegiance to the Para-mountcy of

the Constitution of Guyana and this must supersede and override the narrower

concept of the paramountcy of the party.

Messrs. Khemraj Ramjattan and Raphael

Trotman, please do not give up your seats in The National Assembly. You must

retain your seats so that you may continue to serve all

w:st=”on”>Guyana in the

highest decision making forum, where decisions that affect the lives of all

Guyanese, even the unborn are made. By doing so you will have demonstrated that

you have placed service to Guyana

and all Guyanese over and above the paramountcy of the party thus giving us

reason to hope for improved social conditions and brighter futures.

The old way of thinking (for example, the

paramountcy of the party, democratic centralism, benevolent dictatorship, etc)

which has gotten us into our present economic, political and social

predicaments, has never served Guyana

and Guyanese well.

The quality of life in

w:st=”on”>Guyana is,

inevitably, affected by the moral character of our political institutions. If

the system of national governance is dealing unjustly, with some of its

citizens, they are not the only ones to suffer. The quality of life for all

Guyanese is degraded (today’s reality). A system of national governance that

privileges some citizens over others is giving the ‘privileged citizens" a

corrupted view of democracy even if it gives them a social or economic


You, Sirs, have had the courage to take up

the mantle of Guyanese leadership and have affected a change to a higher and

more sophisticated type or level of thinking – from the traditional either/or

(e.g. democratic centralism) with its inherent limitations to the more

encompassing and futuristic both/and. The former tends to be divisive and to

exclude new thinking and new ideas. This is undemocratic. The latter is more

inclusive and synergistic. It encourages new thinking, new ideas and as a

consequence is far more enduring and democratic – all Guyanese are important.

We have to realize that running a national

government is a country’s biggest business. No other organization in that

country handles the vast sums of money the national government does. The manner

in which this business is run affects every other business within the country.

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for institutions and

organizations to be truly effective if the system of national governance is


Climb every mountain, "young Sirs".

Encourage all Guyanese to put Guyana

first and always. The only question we need to ask is: "What is best

(using public criteria) for Guyana?"

The answer is: "Support Change" "Support the

w:st=”on”>Alliance for Change"

Yours faithfully,

(name and address supplied)

style=’font-size:13.5pt;color:#0031FF’>2005-10-18: Applications flowing in for

w:st=”on”>Alliance For Change

membership (Stabroek


Tuesday, October 18th 2005

The Alliance For Change (AFC) has received

some 1,000 applications for party membership over the two weeks since the forms

were made available to the public, joint leader of the new movement Raphael

Trotman said.

Asked to comment on developments within the

party and preparations for the October 29 launch of the AFC, Trotman said that

since the forms were made available the response had been heartening. The

number of applicants was probably more than some of the established parties

could boast about, he added.

Membership to the AFC requires a fee of $200.

The sum was based on recommendations the leadership of the movement received

during their interactions with the public.

Trotman said over the last few weeks the

party worked on developing and refining its vision, mission statement, and

strategic plan among other things, which both himself and joint leader Khemraj

Ramjattan would present at the launching.

Local and foreign experts including

overseas-based Guyanese are assisting in crafting the strategic plan, he said.

He said that the party was focusing on a

strategic plan and was shying away from the word manifesto in presenting its

philosophy, objectives and plan of action.

The strategic plan, he said, covers a broad

spectrum including the adoption of the National Development Strategy in which

some of the strategies would be updated. Issues of crime, regional development

(including a devolution of political and economic control) and moving the

regions away from a number system to giving them names and personalities of

their own are also being looked at, he said.

He said the main principals of the AFC

included WPA MP Sheila Holder and television station owner Anthony Vieira, but

there were other personalities giving support to the movement and they would

associate themselves publicly with the party after it has been launched.

During a walkabout on Water Street on

Saturday with the other principals, he said, one of the frequently asked

questions was whether or not they believed in God which gave an indication that

people were looking for divine intervention in the governance of the country.

Meanwhile, regarding the launching of the Guyana Third Force, Trotman said the

AFC was not perturbed about the grouping but observed that it was unfortunate

there has been some confusion about the identity of the two entities.

The AFC, he said, was not out to pick fights

with persons competing to get followers but rather to keep focused on the task

ahead which was to ensure that the ruling party in government did not get a

majority at the next elections.


Sheila Holder’s Response to Robert Persaud

style=’font-size:13.5pt;color:blue’>(Stabroek News)


By Sheila Holder 20th September 2005

Dear Sir,

The Sunday September 18 edition of the

Kaieteur News carried a viewpoint by Information Liaison Officer to the

President, Robert Persaud that was dedicated to the ‘Third Force’,

recently named ‘Alliance For Change’ (AFC) by winner of the

‘Name the Third Force Competition’, Corentyne resident, Jagdeo


Attempts were made in the viewpoint to defame

the AFC by suggesting it was a hoax when in fact it was the PPPC that are the

experts at playing many a hoax on the Guyanese people. For instance, during the

last elections campaign when they promised to create thousands of jobs for the

desperate jobless that never materialised.

The AFC assures its supporters and the public

at large that the AFC exists and has a vision that embodies the elements of servant

leadership that recognises God as omniscient, consensus politics as a means to

political stability, a meritorious reward system based on equal treatment and

equal opportunity for all irrespective of race, colour, class or creed. We

believe that when these basic principles are embraced, peace and harmony among

our diverse peoples will follow and regency shall be given to the reform

measures promulgated in our Constitution, which enshrines independence to the

three arms of the state and other institutions so defined.

As the mouth piece for the PPP/C government

that undemocratically monopolises and controls the only radio station in the

country, the state media comprising the people- owned NCN television stations

in Demerara, Essequibo, Berbice & Linden and the Guyana Chronicle

newspaper, to the exclusion of the political opposition generally and other

critics in the society specifically, Robert Persaud presumptuously inferred

that what the PPPC Government does in monopolising the state media is alright

but when it comes to sections of the private media exercising their right to

give political coverage as they see fit, he declares it does not bode well for

the journalistic profession.

He grumbled about the large number of letters

in the print media calling for the establishment of a ‘Third Force’

that featured AFC principals; about the various attacks coming from the

political and non-political sections of the society and the Diaspora critical

of the poor performance of the Jagdeo government. The manner in which he did

this suggested that somehow critics had a hand in the unholy state of affairs

brought upon this nation by successive PPPC governments over the last thirteen


It was they who made no secret of their

self-interested policies by habitually using their simple parliamentary

majority tyrannically even when it became blatantly obvious that such practices

were to the detriment of the body politic and to the nation as a whole.

One such example is their refusal to hold an

enquiry into the devastating coastal floods which affected some one third of

the population after eight long months. Persistent calls by the parliamentary

opposition and civil society to ascertain the causes of the floods continue to

be spurned. Compare this stance with the current situation in

w:st=”on”>New Orleans where the Bush administration has

already moved to establish several enquires into the devastation wroth by

hurricane Katrina. Another example of their self-serving attitude is the

refusal to release the population census after three years thereby denying the

society access to essential public data while utilizing same for their own

partisan purposes, what bigger hoax than that has been played on the Guyanese

people by any other political group in the country? Witness their refusal to

grant the indigenous people their wish to be described as

‘Indigenous’ rather than ‘Amerindian’ while daring to

claim that the Government’s consultation process is working.

Robert Persaud and The PPPC government are in

no position to cast aspersions on sections of the private media or the

political opposition. Their practice of double standards must be brought to an

end by the electorate in order that democratic values might prevail in

w:st=”on”>Guyana. It is

only when such values become entrenched in our country that the debilitating

issues of joblessness and poverty; underdevelopment and crime would be

overcome. We urge the Guyanese people to choose change at the next general

elections because change is the ‘key’ – the symbol of the AFC designed

by Marlon Williams, winner of the AFC logo competition.


Sheila Holder, MP 2005-06-26:

Ramjattan/Trotman breakaway is sign of maturity

style=’font-size:13.5pt;color:blue’>(Stabroek News)


By Miranda La Rose Sunday, June 26th 2005

The desire of Khemraj Ramjattan and Raphael

Trotman "to bridge the racial divide that has developed due to the

dominance of the two major political forces… could only be a good thing and

people like me have an obligation to support it and that is what I am


So said WPA Member of Parliament Sheila

Holder in an interview with Stabroek News on Friday when she stated that she

makes, "no secret of [her] enthusiasm for the combination dubbed the Third

Force. I believe that Khemraj Ramjattan and Raphael Trotman breaking away from

the two major political parties is a significant event in this country [at a

time when] MPs, feel that they are locked into their parties, that they are

owned and controlled by their parties, that breaking away is quite a traumatic

experience and that the fear associated with it is almost as if they have to

get permission."

They have signalled by the breakaway "a

maturity to branch off on their own. That is what someone does when he or she

reaches the age of maturity whether it is in the political or the human

sphere," she said.

Noting the country’s need for new leadership

and the support for it, she said, the movers behind the Third Force are

signalling that, "They’re concerned about the racial insecurities in this

country; that they have a desire to bridge the racial divide that has developed

due to the dominance of the two major political forces in this country."

Holder sees the Third Force having an impact

on the upcoming elections particularly with the support of the young people.

"I see evidence of young people likely to break away from the traditional

positions taken by the parents. They are the ones driving the Third


She has no illusions, however, that the Third

Force would be able to wipe out the PPP/C and the PNCR but, "Young people

have come to realise they can craft out a niche for this Third Force [until

they can find a name] that would give them an opportunity to play a crucial

role in the future of this country."

She is aware that there are die-hard

supporters of the PPP/C and the PNCR who would never change. "They don’t

care what the PNC or PPP do they would stick with them come what may. They are

not going to shift on any arguments even if you presented them with evidence

that from my perspective would be substantial to make anybody shift. They

represent an older generation [who are] so locked into the old mindset of the

PPP and the PNC that they do not even get to the point of being prepared to

acknowledge that it has been detrimental to their own well-being."

Holder said the Third Force was operating in

a kind of political environment where threats are to be anticipated.

"We’re not in a political environment where morality prevails… Any new

political entity has to be aware that the current political environment is

hostile; that it does not play fair; and that the political environment in

which we are operating puts them at a disadvantage.

"If they [Trotman and Ramjattan] start

off from that position, they are informed and can design their strategies

sensibly. To believe that you can change this political environment based on

some preconceived notions of morality in sheep’s clothing, you are putting

yourself at a disadvantage and you’re doomed to failure. I’m not going to fall

for that trap. One has to be wise and to recognise politics for what politics

is worth in this country."

On the question of whether many now

supporting the Third Force would on elections day return to the two major

ethnically based parties, Holder said, "It is not for me to believe it.

People get the government they deserve. If people do that they deserve what

they get from the PPP if they put the PPP back in office. It is not within my

power to predict how people behave but it is my responsibility to ensure that

people are properly informed about the consequences of their behaviour. If they

choose to vote race they have no leg to stand on when at a later date they

themselves are subjected to racist treatment and racist behaviour. You must

understand that this society is what it is because of how we the people behave.

This society has not become as decadent as it has because of the PPP or the

PNC. It is so because the people have allowed it and have embraced this kind of

lawlessness and vulgarity."

Taking a stand

She feels it is time

w:st=”on”>Guyana "takes a stand against [voting race]

instead of running like cowards out of this country to the

w:st=”on”>United States of America

and every other country under the sun… What the Third Force is doing is

giving people the opportunity to take that stand. That’s all we can do. The

decision rests with the people. If the people choose to take the stand we have

as those who offer ourselves for service the burden to deliver. If we don’t

deliver, the people are obligated to get rid of us as well. People must

understand that if they don’t want to execute their responsibility to

themselves no one can help them."

Asked how the WPA viewed her support for the

Third Force, Holder said, "My personal view is that the WPA would be part

of this new thing, if not the WPA, individual members of the WPA." She

said many people who at one time or the other were associated with the WPA were

now encouraging her to take the move forward with the Third Force. Some in the

country and some residing overseas have indicated to her that they welcome the

new force.

Both Trotman and Ramjattan have been talking

with the various political parties, including the WPA, and those discussions

are ongoing, she said, adding, "I don’t intend to comment on those as I

don’t want to jeopardise that. The WPA would have to make that decision to be

or not to be a part of the Third Force. I would hope they would."

Asked about giving up her seat in the

National Assembly, Holder said some journalists have asked her about rumours

that she has been given an ultimatum to give up her seat in parliament because

of her public expression of support for the Ramjattan/Trotman combination.

However, she said that there has been no such request from the executive of the

WPA and any such request would be premature on the part of the WPA since there

was no new political entity to which she was aligned even though she has

expressed public support for the combination. Additionally, she represents an

alliance and any request for her to give up the seat in parliament would have

to come from the GAP/WPA alliance.

Her relationship with the WPA was "an

interesting one," she explained. She joined the GAP/WPA alliance under a

citizens’ component and was never a WPA member. "Many who were part and

parcel of that initiative kept their eyes on me, kept in touch with me and let

me know how they feel on issues, particularly on my public utterances and my

work in the National Assembly," she said.

Before entering parliament on the WPA ticket,

she was involved in the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector spending 30 years

working pro bono. "I am concerned about the welfare of our people or I

would not have given so much of my life to that service; and my enthusiasm

about moving in this direction is what I consider is needed in this country to

lift our people out of the quagmire that we find ourselves in. I don’t need to

be apologetic about that," she said.


Asked whether she was satisfied with her work

in the opposition, Holder said, "Sir Michael has hit the nail on the head.

I am pleased that I resisted initial attempts made by some with whom I was

associated to de-emphasise the importance of the National Assembly. There were

people within [opposition parties], who think that the parliamentary work

amounted to nothing much. They did not think that the environment was conducive

to delivering what they thought needed to be delivered and therefore attempts

were made to pull me out of the National Assembly but I resisted it and I


She added that, "Because disillusionment

of the parliament existed and there is that element of disillusionment within

the WPA itself, attempts were made at times to persuade me that I was wasting

my time in the National Assembly. I didn’t buy into that because I believed the

only way the system could improve was to put it to the test… That is what I

did and I thought it delivered some measurable benefits eventually. Had I not

done so, the status quo would have remained the same."

Even though she was representing the WPA component

of the GAP/WPA alliance, Holder said basically, she was on her own in the

National Assembly for the four years she was there. "One person who has

given me a great deal of advice, whenever I requested it, was Brother Eusi

Kwayana even though he is out of the country."

The WPA in her opinion has a very liberal

view on issues, which she benefited from because of the free rein to do as she

saw necessary in the National Assembly. "Except on one occasion when I was

asked to withdraw a motion to enquire into the [Ronald] Gajraj accusations

about the death squad, which I withdrew, the WPA has never asked me to do

anything instinctively that I found objectionable."

On what has been her disappointment with

parliament, she said, "the unwillingness of the PPP/C administration to be

futuristic and to understand that the gains they had been able to bring to the

parliament are insufficient. The PPP has a preoccupation with the past, a

preoccupation with wallowing in their achievements as if that’s the be all and

end all." Achievements, she said were measurable and if measured with the

needs of the society; the performance of parliament and oversight functions,

such as scrutinizing the executive; and keeping the parliament separate and

distance from the executive, the government was still procrastinating and has

not moved in that direction.


To say they answer questions when in the

previous administration questions would be dumped in a waste paper basket does

not advance the cause of society or make it more accountable and transparent.

On her own political future, Holder said she

started her political career very late but any political future for her will

"be hinged to the needs of the society and we have to educate the people

to play a far bigger role than they have played so far in the administration of

this country whether it is at the civil society or political level."

While she does not consider herself as having

any special political gift, she declared that she lives her life on the basis

of some fundamental principles in keeping with the Ten Commandments. She said

she would not bear false witness against anyone. If that position benefits the

PPP/C or the PNCR "so be it." Stating, too, that one should not kill,

she said that she was not taking the revisionist view which would suggest that

you must not kill an animal or a tree, she said, "God gave us dominion

over the trees and the creatures of this earth and ‘Thou shall not kill’ means

that we mustn’t kill our brothers and sisters whatever race they may be."

Quite frankly, she said, the people who share

this view "would recognise that the Lord Almighty has not prescribed any

political party to deliver our people from the injustices to which our people

have been subjected to over the umpteenth decades. All the other forces have

tried and they have not brought us peace and harmony; they have not brought us

economic development and prosperity, but instead have forced people to leave

these shores in large numbers."

She said that

w:st=”on”>Guyana as a nation was going to be

40 years at the independence anniversary next year. "That has a great deal

of biblical significance for those of us who believe in God Almighty. I believe

that our people have grown up sufficiently to embrace that coming of age, that

epoch, and that new movement waiting to take this nation out of the wilderness

which we found ourselves in the last 40 years."

2006-01-10: AFC EMBARKS ON


The leadership and activists of the Alliance For

Change (AFC) working in teams have commenced an intensive programme of outreach

activities throughout the nation. The outreach work is meant to introduce the

movement to communities and persons in areas not previously visited during the

pre-launch listening tour. Visits have been planned and targeted based on

requests received from members of these communities for the AFC to come and to

interact with members of the public and supporters.

The teams are led by members of the Steering

Committee and will interface with members of the public to unveil the

AFC’s platform for elections, to hear of issues confronting communities,

and to work with leaders in the communities to find solutions to the problems

being encountered.

Since the commencement of the new year, areas

visited include Linden,

Maichony Creek to address concerns arising out of the flood, and West Coast

Berbice. In the coming weeks, teams will fan out to cover the East Coast of

Demerara, The Soesdyke/Linden Highway communities, Rupununi, Pomeroon, Mahadia,

Kurupung, and Matthews

Ridge and other

communities in Region 1 (Barima/Waini).

The AFC intends to field candidates in each

of the electoral Regions, and will also be seeking to identify candidates to

represent the movement both at the National and as well as Regional levels.

Reports and photographs will be posted at the

conclusion of each visit.

January, 10, 2006

style=’font-size:13.5pt;color:blue’>2006-01-09: Mahaicony Creek Flooding Some

farmers consider pulling out of area …AFC distributes hampers (Kaiteur


Some farmers of flood-hit Mahaicony Creek are

contemplating leaving the area, while others fear that their properties may be

seized by lending agencies because they are unable

to repay their loans. The farmers expressed

these fears on Saturday when Executive Members of the

w:st=”on”>Alliance for Change (AFC), Mr. Khemraj

Ramjattan, Mrs. Sheila Holder and Mrs. Gaumatie Singh, visited the community to

distribute flood relief hampers and to have a firsthand look at the crisis.

According to some farmers, flooding in the

community has worsened during the past 10 or 12 years.

They said that as soon as they try to recover

by taking loans to replant, the area would be flooded again.

“Many of us have properties that are at

very high risk of being seized by the bank and lending agencies, and the

government did not even make a move to help us to come to some

reasonable solution to get out of this

mess,” one farmer said.

“I don’t believe that all the flooding

we have in this area came from the rainfall. Some is due to the negligence of officials

and these persons must be held responsible for some of our losses and

punishment.” Another farmer said that over 50 acres of his rice is

completely destroyed and he already utilized more than 1,000 gallons of fuel in

an effort to save the rest. He believes that even though some crops might be

saved, they will not make any profit because so much is spent on trying to save

them. “I will try and save some of my crops but what about those persons

who don’t have millions left to invest in saving theirs?” he asked.

“I think that after this flooding a serious change will be experienced in

this area, either many farmers will leave or they will be forced to leave

knowing that they don’t have the

finances to replant their crops.

“The contribution and visit by AFC has

helped because listening to the plight of the people and helping them to find

solutions to their problems has restored some hope in us today.” Yet

another farmer who has lost millions due to the floods said many of the cattle,

especially the calves, are stranded on small areas of land surrounded by flood

waters and as a

result they will die. He said over 50 acres

of his crops are already destroyed and over 30 calves died. He anticipates more

losses in a few more days. “This is serious suffering the people in this

area are going through. It will be very difficult to pull ourselves out of this

disaster. I have to spend over $1,500 a day just to send my

child to a secondary school. “Tell me

how we can manage this when so very often our livelihoods are destroyed by the

floods. I think a lot more can be done by the government to prevent this

flooding or even reduce it to an extent and I also think that they can do much

more to help us at this point in

time.” They alleged that only once have

officials from the Government visited the area since the floods began. They

were reportedly given $100,000 which they think is inadequate, considering

their losses amount to millions. “The $100,000 compensation cannot even

help us save our crops much less to help us replant or get back on

track,” one man said. “At the moment we are concerned with having

the water drained out of the area and none of that was discussed by the

government official who visited. “They just come in and try to fool us by

giving the money but they should have estimated our losses and then come

in” one farmer said. The residents thanked the AFC executive members for

the hampers and some remarked that at least somebody has their concerns in

mind. Farmers are also complaining about the poorly maintained drainage systems

in the area and additional water which they think was drained into the area

from another area or

possibly the conservancy. “The members

of AFC really impressed us…they don’t have the resources and finances

that are available to the government and yet they can come and help us.”

The residents said they are also encountering several other problems in the

area. AFC Executive Member Khemraj Ramjattan said the AFC will be following the

flood closely and immediate arrangements will be made to distribute more relief

to the residents who

are severely affected. He pointed out that

the AFC will also be visiting the area again since the interest and concerns of

the people of Guyana

are a first priority.

2006-01-28: The AFC has been

engaged in meaningful dialogue with most of the opposition parties An open

letter to Br. David Hinds


Dear David,

Thank you for your interest in the future

well being of the AFC and promoting the movement as having creditability and

influence to change the political culture and landscape of


At last count according to GECOM, some

thirty-one political parties had registered their intention to face the

electorate at the upcoming General and Regional Elections. Except for the two

dinosaurs and a couple of others, you seem by your ommission, to have dismissed

the other parties from sharing the political space, and being part of a

possible National Unity Government that you are so eloquently promoting.

For the records since last year the AFC has

been engaged in meaningful dialogue with most of those opposition political

parties that you identified in your letter of Jan. 25, 2006 (SN). Unfortunately

the WPA though invited did not display any measure of good faith and/or

commitment, and opted not to be part of these engagements giving the seat issue

as the basis for non-engagement.

The AFC leadership did not set any terms or

preconditions for current engagements with other parties. Fortunately for the

process, every representative who participated, rejected outright the terms and

conditions for participating, which had been proposed by the WPA – What Irony!

The critical issue is not the political

posturing of the WPA and you, as their mouthpiece, on a Government of National

Unity, which you have so justifiably presented as the only hope for

w:st=”on”>Guyana. It is

that unity of oneness and committment to Guyana’s

ethnic security, social and economic advancement, which the Guyanese electorate

and those in the Diaspora are expecting from all parties occupying the

political space in Guyana.

Incidentally, it is well known that the AFC

has never shied away from a discussion on the issue of a Government of National

Unity and has repeatedly stated its commitment to work towards the

establishment of the framework of such a government.

The AFC has listened, and Guyanese at home

and abroad are of one voice which is that – It is Time for Change! Most agree

that the two monoliths have had their chance and both failed miserably. That is

why the space was created for you and the WPA starting almost three decades ago

and now for the AFC and a few others.

The last thing anyone wishes to see at this

crucial time is a crab-in-a-barrel mentality.

This is not the vision of the AFC and its

Agenda For Change.

The AFC avails itself to continue meaningful

dialogue with the other political parties and looks forward to the WPA

participating even at this stage, it is never too late.

Youre faithfully, Steering Committee Alliance

For Change


w:st=”on”>Alliance For Change Launched


Ramjattan leader and chairman, Trotman

presidential candidate

By Miranda La Rose (Stabroek News) Sunday,

October 30th 2005

Khemraj Ramjattan is the Leader and Chairman

of the newly-launched Alliance For Change (AFC), while his colleague Raphael

Trotman, is the party’s presidential candidate.

The announcements were made at the official

launching of the party at the Ocean View Hotel and Convention Centre,

Liliendaal yesterday morning. Trotman, who along with Ramjattan outlined the

party’s vision, said the ceremony was not the launching of a political party

but the birth of a movement of consciousness that says the people have had

enough and want their due of respect, equality, prosperity and security.

WPA MP Sheila Holder, who worked with the AFC

in its establishment, chaired the programme which included prayers by the three

major religious groups, Christian, Hindu and Muslim. The packed auditorium

included special invitees, members of the diplomatic community and members of

the AFC from various parts of the country. The auditorium was decorated in the

party’s green and gold colours.

Twenty-two year-old Ryan Samuels gave his

perspective on the AFC, saying he had felt "left out" of the older

political parties and as such had opted to join the AFC instead.

The AFC’s leadership style would see its

prime ministerial and presidential candidates, if successful in their bid to

form a government, each hold office for half a term. After that they would

switch posts.

Similarly, Ramjattan said, if the presidential

candidate were only to be elected opposition leader, that office too would be

held by the presidential candidate for half the term and thereafter be

transferred to the prime ministerial candidate.

He said the party took this position

conscious that unless innovation in political procedure and arrangements was

created, the racial and ethnic divide would persist. These decisions, he said,

were agreed to by the party’s steering committee and were to be ratified by the

party’s membership.

Apart from Holder, Ramjattan and Trotman, the

party’s steering committee includes attorney-at-law, Gaumattie Singh;

television station owner, Anthony Vieira; administrator, Chantalle Smith and

economist and former finance minister in the PPP/C administration, Asgar Ally.

Strategic goals

Outlining the party’s strategic goals,

Ramjattan listed one of them as being improving the living standards of

Guyanese from US$600 per capita to US$6,000 per capita within ten years. This

was to be done through the introduction of information technology and market

linkages, and then through high productivity.

The party intends to achieve balanced and

sustainable development of all regions and all people as far as possible;

ensure an economically just society in which there is fair and equitable

distribution of the wealth of the nation and full partnership in economic

progress; and substantial investment in education and human resources to

support the needs of the changing society and a competitive economy.

The party also intends to restore

independence, confidence and integrity to the existing government and state

institutions and to establish new and appropriate institutions to protect and

advance the constitutional rights and freedoms of all Guyanese. It also aims to

reconfigure and strengthen the processes and institutions which would enhance

and guarantee the people’s representation; and bring respectability to the

judicial process and the rule of law by the timely dispensation of justice.

Ramjattan said an action plan along with mechanisms

and processes to realize these strategic goals was far from complete, but a

major effort was ongoing to ensure completion within a couple of months. The

AFC would conduct a public consultation with major stakeholders in determining

its final action plan in relation to its economic, social and political

platform. This was mandatory in view of the demand for a new dispensation in


politics, he said.

Referring to the view held by some that they

had been sluggish, Ramjattan assured the audience that they had actually been

hard at work, understanding and formulating a cluster of strategic goals to

make Guyana

develop as a nation.

He addressed the issue of a diversified

agricultural sector and industrialisation in relation to the AFC economic platform,

which, he said, was based largely on private sector enterprise with the state

being the facilitator.

Noting that the National Development Strategy

was still a useful document, he said the basic building blocks and guiding

principles on which the strategy had been based no longer existed, and there

was need to revise its strategies and policies.

Noting that funds were available to achieve

the party’s strategic goals, Ramjattan said an analysis of the state’s finances

revealed that $.2 billion per month was lost through ill-advised and

misconceived enforcement procedures at almost every revenue-collecting

institution, the biggest being the Guyana Revenue Authority. With the political

will, he said, this situation could be corrected.

Additionally, the Guyanese diaspora’s

contribution through remittances was another source to tap for nation building.

The adoption of innovative methods to "fund ourselves out of poverty"

was not being done by the government at present, though the head of the Poverty

Alleviation Committee was paid the sum of about $2.6 million per month.


Apologising for levelling accusations at the

PNCR over the attacks on his home recently, Trotman said: "We have become

impatient and intemperate making utterances that are hurtful and unnecessary,

as even I have regrettably done quite recently. Like a spent arrow, the spoken

word could never be recalled but one should be able to say sorry."

Addressing concerns and discussions about his

continued involvement in the affairs of the National Assembly, Trotman said

that as Speaker Ralph Ramkarran had given his ruling on the matter of his

disqualification, he believed the time was propitious for Leader of the PNCR

Robert Corbin and himself to meet, "as he recently proposed, to discuss and

decide as mature and responsible representatives of our respective

constituencies, my resignation from the Assembly. I hope that he would keep his

promise to meet and speak."

While he awaits that information, he said he

intended to keep himself gainfully occupied with the people’s business by

advancing the cause of public access to information, accountability and

transparency in government.

He spoke too of the crime situation in

w:st=”on”>Guyana and the need to mount a strong and united

defence against it; the need for indigenous peoples to be recognized and

accepted as the first peoples of

w:st=”on”>Guyana entitled to recognition and

respect and not handouts and prescriptions; and of a tiredness with the old


He outlined the party’s vision which he said

was no different from that of Martin Luther King Jnr’s dream for the betterment

of the people.

Noting that in recent times, he and Ramjattan

had been described as "wish-wash rejects" and would be accused of

every possible crime and vice, he said that if there were believers, Psalm 118

reminded us that "the stone which the builder refused is to become the

headstone of the corner."

He said that having walked the country and

listened to the voices of the people, the AFC believed that Guyanese wanted the

emergence of a new political consciousness and a wholesome form of government

which would peel away the layers of old hatreds and old wrongs, political

recrimination, finger-pointing, killings, corruption, mismanagement and

lawlessness. The AFC, he said, intends to bring this vision into reality.

Interest of the people

Also addressing the issue of seats in

Parliament, Ramjattan said when they were elected members of the National

Assembly, their respective parties regarded them as worthy representatives of

the people. "Surely it cannot be presumed that we were selected into the

National Assembly to represent our respective party’s interest over and above

the people’s interest or the national interest. This is precisely why the party

which selected us cannot terminate our duty to represent the people and the

national interest in the National Assembly on the ground of party

disaffiliation." He added that the constitution did not give power of

removal to political parties.

He said there was constitutional recognition

of the fact that in the National Assembly the interest of the people was

greater than the interest of the party. That was why there was no prohibition

against any member of the National Assembly voting inconsistently with the

party’s other members, or refraining from voting consistently with them.

He argued those MPs who perceived themselves

as representatives of their respective parties rather than representatives of

the people were subscribers to the concept of party paramountcy and the

democratic centralist doctrine, and were corroding and eroding the essence of

parliamentary democracy. As such, he said, the call for himself and Trotman to

vacate their seats on the narrow grounds of disaffiliation from parties was


He gave the assurance that they would

continue to occupy their seats in Parliament until such time as they

individually decided to vacate, "if ever we so decide."

He said that because of old contorted

politics, national interest was being subverted for partisan party interests.

For that reason, the Procurement Commission was not constituted or operational

so that awards of contracts were not scrutinised, among other reasons.

The launching ceremony also featured a number

of greetings from friends and well-wishers in India,

Italy, the

w:st=”on”>United Kingdom, the USA,


w:st=”on”>Grenada, the Cayman Islands,

w:st=”on”>Finland and


There was also a video documentary of

greetings from the local constituency from various parts of the country and a

Hilton Hemerding song sung by Sharon Archer with musical accompaniment by

Trevor John.


href=”2006-01-03.htm”> lliance aims high by Shaun Michael Samaroo December

w:st=”on”>Issue, Guyana

Free Press (Toronto



style=’font-size:13.5pt’> for change? Popular and passionate, a helpless cry

rises in protest among young Guyanese, wanting urgent reform – deep change

within the nation’s political culture

Elections come next year. And the old

habits of the old parties live on – divisive ethnic voting patterns. The

incumbent Party, the People’s Progressive Party, and the main Opposition,

the People’s National Congress, defend the system as it suits them, it

seems, changing rules only to preserve themselves in power

This forms the impression of the young Guyanese

today – a disdain apathy towards the political culture that has stifled

the glorious talent of a creative and powerful people. The nation from all

economic indicators continues to sink. Crime fills the national media with gory

stories every day

Corruption and brutality and bad manners

and a sickening slide in public morals sink the ship of state into a state of

pathetic beggarliness

Along comes two young men with ideals and

ideas and plans on how to fix things

They approach their seniors in the ranks

into which they had decided to serve, and expressed revolutionary ideas of

reforming the dreaded political culture

But, alas, new thought does not find a

welcome mat at the doorstep of the

w:st=”on”>Guyana status quo. So the same wall

that drives 87 percent of Guyana’s

skilled citizens to “better pastures” overseas blocked any progress

they planned

But these two young men fight for what

they believe in. Raphael Trotman decides to stand on his own independent feet

against his political superiors at Congress

Place. And as if fate has deemed it time for

w:st=”on”>Guyana to

experience a revolution, Khemraj Ramjattan decides to toll some bells at

Freedom House

Neither Trotman nor Ramjattan found

dancers for their tunes. Instead, they both got unceremoniously kicked out. The

unimaginative, uncreative, stifling bureaucratic monster reared its head and

sternly rebuked these young reformers for even daring to speak up against the

stultifying system

But a nation’s cry rang in the ears

of these two young men. So they joined forces, almost two strange bedfellows,

and decided to form an Alliance

For Change. Finding strong support among the people whose cries they had

answered, Trotman and Ramjattan launched the

w:st=”on”>Alliance For Change political party to

challenge the old horses at next year’s elections

They have started with gutsy courage,

enterprising enthusiasm and lively faith

They believe with passion that they will

make a change and steer Guyana

into a future of bright hope

Joining them on this mission, a band of

likeminded leaders pledged to support them every step of the way. Sheila

Holder, a veteran advocate for consumers’ rights in Guyana, and an

excellent parliamentarian for another opposition party herself, joined the band

that trooped over to the Alliance For Change camp

Holder, Ramjattan and Trotman became

household names overnight, largely because they refused to give up their

parliamentary seats.

They had won these seats under the banner

of the old parties, and those parties wanted back those seats

Trotman gave his up last week. Ramjattan

and Holder are holding on to theirs, “for now”

A nation’s destiny lies outside

deliberate plans. And Guyana’s destiny may very well have reached a

tipping point when Holder, Trotman and Ramjattan found themselves companions on

a 36- hour flight from Guyana to Finland. The three ended up together because

they “were picked” to represent Guyana at a seminar dealing with

parliament and poverty

“We were in the first class section

of the plane for a very long flight. And so we ended up talking. And here were

three Members of Parliament, from three opposing parties, saying exactly the

same thing about Guyana’s problems. We found we were agreeing on what

needs to be done,” Holder said

Holder talks with great animation about

the Alliance. She believes in its purpose heart and soul

She was on a whirlwind tour of Toronto

recently to set up initial contacts for the three of them to officially visit

Toronto and spread their message, sometime early next year

She graciously granted an exclusive interview

to Guyana Free Press, after Canadian-Guyanese community leader Derek Kowlessar

talked to her

Holder said that the Finland trip caused

herself, Ramjattan and Trotman to work together, and their alliance on that

mission forged them together. They found that their ideas were similar, and

they wanted the same things for their nation

“Our aim is for the alliance to

bridge the ethnic divide that has afflicted this nation,” Holder said She

said people are responding to the Alliance in its early days with enthusiasm

and hope. “The Movement has given people a lot of hope. I believe that we

have a realistic chance of winning the elections”

Holder said that “parliament has

been dysfunctional” and this system of representation must change

“In parliament, issues are voted on based on party position, not to

affect the best interest of the people,” she said Holder, a staunch

member of the Working People’s Alliance before she joined the Alliance

For Change, said this is a different time than

when Walter Rodney tried to initiate

similar changes in Guyana’s political culture. Rodney was killed in a

political assassination “This is a new chance and people recognize that

We have been given a new chance to get our house in order,” she said The

trio believe so much in their mission that they journeyed last month to the US

– to meet with noted figures in Washington. They

met with the International Monetary Fund,

the World Bank, State Department officials and members of the overseas Guyanese

community in New York and Washington

“We saw extraordinary success in

those meetings,” Holder said Holder believes that “Guyana as a

society is at the point of failure. Crime and corruption pose the biggest

problems facing us. We need to see a God-fearing, honest, decent government manage

the affairs of the nation,” she said

“It saddens me to see what has

become of my country. I have served for 30 years in voluntary work And I wanted

to see the country achieve good things. It breaks my heart to see where we are

as a people today” But Holder refuses to give up. Just like she did under

Rodney’s leadership, she has agreed to throw her weight behind the

Alliance For

Change to heal the gapping wounds

crippling a nation that can achieve so much if the right leadership can govern.

2006-1-23: Letter to

Commissioner of Police after visit to Fort Island, Essequibo


The Commissioner of Polic

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>e Mr. Winston Felix, DSM Police Headquarters, Eve

Leary, Georgetown.

Dear Sir,

On behalf of the Executive and members of the

Alliance For Change, I bring you belated New Year’s Greetings and a

pledge of support for your work in the months ahead. This year will test the

mettle and character of most of us and we have every confidence that you, your

officers and ranks, will discharge your duties in the highest professional


Our particular purpose for writing is to

address the issue of the besieging of Fort Island, Essequibo River on December,

23, 2005, and the horrific crimes which were committed there. No doubt you are

familiar with this event. Having visited the island recently, we undertook to

bring to your attention the following issues on behalf of victims and members

of the community:

Residents remain traumatized and

insufficiently advised as to the state of the investigation and prosecution of

the perpetrator apprehended thus far. There needs to be an update as to the

progress of the investigation. We suggest for your consideration, that a team

visits the island on a confidence building exercise.

Articles recovered to date including,

outboard motors and cell phones, have not been returned and are desperately

needed. We suggest that you consider issuing an instruction that the articles

be returned forthwith, after being photographed and the necessary markings

placed thereon.

That consideration is given to the placement

of an outpost on the Island, or for an increase in river patrols to assure the

residents that there is a measure of security in place. A complaint was made

that on the night of the incident a call placed to the Parika Police Station

revealed that only one rank was on duty and he expressed helplessness at being

able to respond. Fort Island houses historical structures and sites which have

been declared national monuments. A police presence on the island would be very

reassuring to tourists and residents alike.

id=”_x0000_i1026″ src=”images/LatestNews_img_0.jpg”>That the idea of a

community policing group be given serious consideration including, assistance

in its formation and training of members.

Those suitable members of the community are

identified for the granting of firearm licences. It is our information that

some members have already forwarded applications.

We trust that you will interpret these issues

raised in the helpful context in which they are intended. We offer our

assistance in any way that you may find useful for addressing them, or any

other matters that may arise.

Yours Respectfully, Mr. Raphael Trotman

Alliance For Change

height=1 id=”_x0000_i1027″ src=”images/LatestNews_img_1.jpg” align=””>

border=0 width=4 height=1 id=”_x0000_i1028″ src=”images/LatestNews_img_2.jpg”


2006-2-11: The AFC did make a statement on the

Waddell murder (Stabroek News)

Dear Editor,

In my letter published on Thursday, February

9, I said the following:

"It is indeed ‘unfortunate’ that after

hearing so much about the Alliance for Change, we haven’t heard them take a

public stand on the execution of Ronald Waddell in this, an election year. I am

willing to retract this if indeed I missed it in the newspaper reports or if

they did issue a statement and it wasn’t reported."

I have since received the following from

Sheila Holder of the AFC:

"Please be advised that as leader of the

AFC, Khemraj did issue an immediate public statement of condemnation of

Waddell’s murder on the electronic media.

"It appeared on a newscast the night

after the murder became known and was broadcast in full on the AFC programme, ‘Alliance

On The Move’ a couple days later. Raphael and others were out of the country on

business during this period.

"Khemraj Ramjattan in fact called for

the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to move quickly to solve this brutal murder and

not allow this one in particular go the route of the others that were left

unsolved but to bring the perpetrators to justice to give some level of

satisfaction to Waddell’s grieving family and supporters. He expressed sympathy

to them and also called on Waddell’s supporters to use restraint and not to

retaliate as an eye for an eye would leave us all blind; but allow the GPF to

do the job that was expected of them.

"He also asked that the GPF increase

their presence in East Coast villages in order to deter any wanton acts of recrimination.

Of course you know Noel and I attended the funeral to represent the


I would like to publicly acknowledge this


Yours faithfully, Alissa Trotz


style=’font-size:13.5pt;color:blue’>7: The leaders of the Alliance have been on

the road since the launch introducing themselves to Guyanese at home and in the

Diaspora (Stabroek


Dear Editor,

The heightened interest being displayed in

the activities of the Alliance For Change (AFC) is indeed refreshing. Such interest

can only serve to energize and propel us further.

The AFC has recognized contributions to the

daily newspapers by Bro. Dr. David Hinds, an uncharacteristically benevolent

article by Stella Ramsaroop, the concerns of Dr. Alissa Trotz following the

slaying of Ronald Waddell, and recently, the more expansive review by F.

Skinner now being supported by Paul Ramsaroop. As an aside, I have to concede

that it is beginning to appear that the Ramsaroop family’s concern for the

survival of the AFC is genuine. We view these interests and the sometimes

stinging criticisms as actual displays of genuine concern and support for the

AFC, as we are undoubtedly and expectedly being held to a higher standard than

is required by all others.

I hope Stella would not be offended if I

borrow from her article in the Kaieteur News of Feb. 5, 2006, when she quite

aptly stated of the AFC "…the people’s third force alternative lies

squarely on your shoulders now." Certainly, when the AFC was launched in

October, 2005 those who participated in the ceremony and were in attendance

felt the weight of responsibility that had been transferred from the shoulders

of those who had been battling for a breakthrough for decades, to the shoulders

of those of us in the AFC, and other parties, who have taken up the cause

because we believe that Guyana can only survive if administered a strong

injection of a healing serum.

The AFC has never doubted for one moment the

significance and magnitude of the task, and quite frankly we have found it to

be a humbling and at times an intimidating experience; yet we are persevering

nevertheless. Today, some months on, the AFC remains intact despite every

attempt to disturb and destroy it. We have thankfully remained on friendly

terms with all parties which formed the now defunct GTF platform and resolve

not to allow our relations with any party to disintegrate into open hostility

though the provocations will be ever present.

The principals and other leaders of the

movement have been on the road since its launch, introducing ourselves to

Guyanese at home and in the Diaspora, and have commenced the arduous task of

raising finance to fund our activities. We have been busy engaging and

attempting to recruit the best minds and abilities to support and enable us to

discharge the burden of responsibility that has been placed squarely on our

shoulders. One truism which we accept is that we cannot do it alone, and it was

to our great disappointment when the GTF platform went "caput," as

Stella described its unfortunate downfall. Despite differences in approach, the

AFC intends to continue to engage all the former members of the GTF and others,

in our quest to do what is best in Guyana’s interest.

Admittedly, we have not been doing enough to

give prominence to publicly communicate our position on issues and are taking

steps to remedy this situation. However, we have made various pronouncements

included in the speeches at our Launch, released information to the media, and

distributed materials. Unfortunately, because many persons living abroad feed

on the material placed on the online versions of the newspapers, and on second

and third hand information provided from friends and relatives, they are most

likely to miss the facts as they are, as was recently the case with my sister

Alissa a week ago.

As patriotic and caring Guyanese we in the

AFC are concerned about crime and security, the economy and job creation, and

good governance as being the issues occupying the minds of our brothers and sisters.

To this end, the AFC is studying and refining every useful comment and

recommendation on the above and more, that has been made by all stake holders

whether they be in, or out, of Guyana. We have stated the AFC’s position

against the call for an electoral boycott, long before others expressed their

views. We have condemned violence in all its forms, and at every available

opportunity so much so that on a recent visit to Buxton, the AFC was invited to

help mend relations with neighbouring communities; and have now publicly called

for national healing and reconciliation in a recently published advertisement

(SN & KN of Sun. Feb. 12, 2006).

Representatives of the AFC have travelled

literally from Corriverton to the borders of Venezuela and Brazil and have

entered villages and towns not because we wanted to share footballs and

trophies, but because we were invited by the people to hear from them their

anguish about how they feel about the decay that has set in on the body of our

motherland, and of their sanguine expressions of hope for a change.

We acknowledge that all questions raised must

be answered. Our commitment to the notion of servant leadership has compelled

us to adopt a bottom- up approach for inputs to influence and contribute to

designing an action- plan for change and development. We must listen to the

voices of those who have experienced and suffered the most from the degradation

that has taken place over the decades.

We recognize the need for expert advice from

those at home and just as importantly, from those abroad and this is where the

Stellas, Alissas, Davids, Skinners and Pauls, will prove invaluable if they

decide to put their shoulders to the wheel. With the AFC putting its best foot

forward, and with their invaluable assistance, we would be able to provide all

the answers to the questions and more in the most reasonable timeframe.

The AFC therefore urges all those who believe

in the inevitability of change and transformation not to snipe at it, but to

blow wind into its sails by offering encouragement, objective criticism and

tangible support. With the right attitude, support, faith, and timing, all

things are possible.

Individuals who have an interest in the AFC

and its activities may contact us directly at our offices at 354 Cummings

Street, North Cummingsburg, Georgetown, Guyana; telephone (592) – 225 – 0452 or

225 – 0455, or by email at alliance4change @yahoo.com; or by visiting our

website www.afcguyana.com; or securing a copy of our monthly publication The


Remember, Choose Change …It’s Time! Yours

faithfully, Raphael Trotman Chairman


Freedom of Information bill is the priority

now – Trotman By Miranda La Rose (Stabroek News)

Alliance for Change Chairman Raphael Trotman

is passionate about Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation and a bill that

seeks to bring this about, a labour of love for the AFC, is to be tabled as a

private member’s bill.

"Our main duty is to bring this bill to

the place of the peoples’ representatives and we would like to see how the

peoples’ representatives react to a bill that is going to open up press

freedoms and so on," Trotman said in an interview with Stabroek News on


AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan has presented

the bill to the Clerk of the National Assembly. Ramjattan, who was expelled

from the PPP/C and another AFC principal Sheila Holder, who formerly

represented GAP/WPA, have refused to give up their seats in Parliament. And

while Trotman acknowledged that it was an issue, which was not going to go away

completely, he said the AFC was continuing to review it. "We continue to

act in what we think is best for the movement and what the people want,"

he said.

While Ramjattan’s absence is noticeable in

Parliament at many sittings, Trotman said he was pressing forward "with

the work that we have committed to; he is seeing it [the FOI bill] through.

That bill is before the Clerk’s office to be sent to the Chief Parliamentary

Counsel Office for review."

Trotman, who had resigned from the PNCR, had

also held on to his seat in the House for a while before withdrawing as he had

promised he would do. He said the withdrawal of the others would be in keeping

with their internal arrangements to pilot the bill through Parliament and in

time they would follow suit.

Told that there were other MPs in Parliament

and within the opposition who could have piloted the FOI bill, such as ROAR MP

Ravi Dev, who some feel the government and the main opposition would have been

more inclined to support, Trotman said that argument was "disingenuous".

He said no other MP had ever proposed,

offered to draft, or had been involved in drafting such a bill. "This is

our labour. We have also received assistance from the Human Rights Initiative.

They are in contact with us two or three times a week. So we have a commitment.

It is a private member’s bill. It is something we feel strongly about. While we

feel others would take it through we recognise that the others have never in

the past identified it as an issue that they wanted," he said.

Asked whether he thought an "AFC"

bill would get the required support for enactment, Trotman said, "I’ll

tell you what is important. What is important is that a FOI bill sees the light

of day in Guyana. If the government is as backward enough to shoot it down…well

then it just adds another nail in its coffin." If the main opposition went

the same route, he said, in 2006 when the cries of corruption, nepotism and

cronyism are so alive and rampant, then, its members too, would have to give an

account of themselves. Asked whether the AFC drafters consulted other MPs,

Trotman said some of them behaved as though the FOI bill was not needed.

Trotman added: "We have shown it to some

stakeholders in civil society. It is posted on our website. When we get a

signal from the Speaker that it is ready, we intend to hold public symposia on

the issue. We are going through the various stages."


Asked whether the AFC would support the call

for a boycott of the general elections due by August 4 this year, he noted that

the party had already said it was not in favour of a boycott based on ethnic

grounds which appealed to one ethnic group in society only. "That would

only reinforce the division rather than help the situation," he said.

He said the African Cultural Development

Association (ACDA), which put forward the notion in the first instance, should

have called for a national boycott, which would have given it credibility,

rather than appeal to a section of society.

While he could appreciate where ACDA was

coming from and the frustration it was expressing given the fact that after

three successive elections the lot of Guyanese of African descent has not

improved, he said there was a growing sense that the utility of political

parties and elections was lost and what was played out at elections was an

ethnic census. "We share ACDA’s concerns and sympathise but believe that

true power could be shown at the elections rather than staying away from

it," he added.

Asked about alliances and why the AFC was not

part of the Guyana Third Force Platform, Trotman said the platform was launched

before the AFC was, so it could not have been part of the initial process.

However, he said, after the AFC was launched a series of meetings were held

between the AFC and the GTF; the last one was in December when the GTF members

asked for a postponement of the talks because of an internal issue they wanted

to resolve. He believed the internal issue had to do with GAP Leader Paul Hardy

leaving the platform.

He said when he last spoke with Vision Guyana

Leader and member of the GTF platform Peter Ramsaroop at a Miami airport,

Ramsaroop confirmed there would be no further meetings between the GTF and the

AFC since the notion of what the GTF stood for was lost.


Trotman said it was not a case where the AFC

refused to be a part of the GTF and while some had objections to the AFC coming

on board until Ramjattan and Holder had left Parliament, it was not seen as a

stumbling block to discussions.

But since the GTF platform has more or less

collapsed, Trotman said, the AFC has been making itself available for political

unions or collaborative efforts. The AFC has had talks with the Justice For All

Party (JFAP), GAP, ROAR and the Unity Party. "All are led by persons and

have persons within who are making or could make a contribution to

Guyana," he said.

Asked whether the AFC was courting these

political parties to join the movement, he said the ideal was to have everybody

under one banner but barring that the next best thing would be to have a

working relationship for a common purpose with a preagreed agenda should they

get into Parliament.

But isn’t that going back to the GTF platform

set up? Trotman replied that even though the third force concept came from

Ramjattan and himself about two years "predating Peter Ramsaroop’s

platform" they never claimed ownership of it. "We don’t say we have

copyright for it. At the end of the day, the most important thing is a working

relationship of third, middle, or, centrist parties, which do not cleave to the

two major parties."

He said all the political parties that stand

in the middle and are prepared to offer themselves as an alternative to the

PPP/C and the PNCR would be friends of the AFC in the preelections period. In

the postelections scenario, he said, the AFC would have to work with them all.

"We are not out to destroy the PPP or

the PNCR," he said. "We are out to change the political system so

much so that if at the end of this exercise the PNCR and the PPP/C collate, or start

to speak to each other, we would have been successful. We intend to create

space between them. It is for the people to decide how wide that space would be

in terms of how many seats they are going to give us. Both parties have people

who are quite worthy."

On current engagements, he said the AFC was

enthused with the way discussions were going and were moving to formal talks.

However, he said the fight was not for one group only and they could either go

as a union or as groups within a given set of rules.

In terms of preparations for the elections,

he said that apart from administrative matters, the AFC was benefiting from the

advice of some external campaign strategists.

To date, he said, outreach programmes have

had positive results and have penetrated traditional PPP/C or PNC strongholds.

These include some support in the Corentyne, West Coast Berbice and sections of

the community in Essequibo, Pomeroon, Port Kaituma, Mabaruma and the North

Rupununi. He said the support was encouraging but there was need to consolidate


On the remarks by PPP General Secretary

Donald Ramotar that the upcoming elections would be a contest between the PPP/C

and the PNCR with no space for the smaller parties as they have created no

impact, Trotman said he disagreed based on surveys and meeting with the people.

He said people would either reject the third force change concept or accept it

all together.

Stating that Ramotar would be proven wrong,

he said he was aware that the PPP/C continued to pay keen interest to the AFC’s

activities and was worried. Even the Bisram opinion poll showed that the PPP/C

was not likely to get the 51% of votes required to form the government, he


To charges that the AFC was bringing nothing

new to the political stage, Trotman said the AFC was going to push the issue of

healing and reconciliation, atonement and forgiveness and call on the people to

do likewise and put aside grievances and race hate. Already, he said, leaders

in Buxton have asked the AFC to help heal relationships with Annandale and the

process has begun.

2006-3-17: Sheila Holder has

provided yeoman service as a Member of Parliament (Stabroek News)


Dear Editor,

I am aware that Mrs. Sheila Holder, GAP-WPA

MP and the WPA whose women leaders identified her as a likely MP, are now at


This letter will steer clear of that issue

and of reports of what her new platform thinks of the WPA. I simply wish to

make sure that the contribution of persons who do good work in any area be not

clouded by issues that arise later. Her breach with the WPA does not erase the

work that she did.

I did not know Mrs. Holder well before she

became politically active. I wish to say some things about her, as a newcomer

to national politics.

As an MP Sheila Holder has been zealous, hardworking,

alert and competent. She reads every official document and always has a living

grasp of the issues. She reads the Auditor General’s Reports and seeks out and

obtains information relating to the work of the National Assembly, and the

welfare of the country. She is not shy of economic, financial or budgetary

issues, memoranda of understanding, documents from the multilateral or

international financial agencies, and of procedure; she has harried the

Ministers with questions and has been always articulate in communicating. I

know of her efforts along with a few other MPs to implement the changes to the

constitution made by the CRC.

When I was in the Rodney House as general

political handyman and co-opted member of the Executive, we visited several

villages, often with Desmond Trotman, the Centre Manager and my fellow office

jumbie. We even began trying to make young people in three West Coast Berbice

villages aware of the threat of HIV and AIDS. She drove us there, as we had no

other transport.

With a public-spirited supporter of the

GAP-WPA, Richard Finemesser, a non-member, she followed the WPA tradition of

ongoing service to the remote Pakaraimas, Region Eight, and assisted in the

formation of an empowering local organisation among the residents. She

frequently lamented the failure of the Parliament Office to serve her fellow MP

from the Rupununi.

Her request for office space at parliament

building, refused by the Speaker on suspicion, showed the narrow concept of the

rights of MPs and thus of the people they are seen as representing.

I know nothing of her early, formal

preparation. From the news she has been known as a consumer activist, an area

also occupying the talents and competence of an exceptional Guyanese resource,

Ms Eileen Cox, Mr. Pat Dyal and others. This pursuit seemed to penetrate every

aspect of public life often involving the thorny and complicated issues of

utility regulation.

It will be no exaggeration to say that,

because of the decision of the main opposition to boycott most sittings of the

Assembly in line with their view of things, for much of the time a handful of

MPs often one, carried much of the weight and brunt of the attempts in the

National Assembly to make the government accountable.

Since no one else may be willing in these

circumstances to speak of Mrs Holder’s service to the country I do it, aware

that the politics of the letter may be misunderstood.

Elsewhere I have regretted that MP Mrs

Backer’s most ingenious motion on the conduct of the Guyana Police Force has never

been debated, first because of the government’s stubborn refusal for about a

year to bring it forward and next because of her own party’s boycott of the

Assembly. A timely debate on that issue would certainly have made a difference.

Two years of negative developments might have been avoided or might have taken

place in quite another context.

I suspect that some of the personalities

named in this letter might not have chosen to be read on the same page as

others. I have not spoken of similar persons, but of persons whose service may

have gone unnoticed. I hope that this qualifies it as a non-partisan or

politically neutral letter.

The PPP also has resourceful women, but they

have been too cramped until recently with democratic centralism, as we were reminded

by Dr. Luncheon.

Yours faithfully,

Eusi Kwayana

2006-3-19: The Alliance For

Change is willing to assist in crafting a strategy to stave off anarchy

(Stabroek News)

Dear Editor,

If one is to take President Jagdeo’s recent

fulminations on crime, security, and politics at the sacred Babu John Memorial

site seriously, one would believe that there is no government and leadership in

Guyana. The President’s analysis is that the real power is growing out of the

barrels of guns held in the hands of a guerrilla force operating under the

auspices of the opposition parties of Guyana. The nation expects that the

Head-of-State and Commander in-Chief will display greater strength in times of

national upheaval and not be given to irresponsible and unsubstantiated

outbursts. To date, there are approximately thirty opposition parties intending

to contest the upcoming elections. To believe that one or more of them may be

involved in unlawful, insurrectionist activities is a serious charge which must

be fully investigated and proven, failing which, an apology should be issued


Certainly, in Guyana we have seen a

remarkable increase in the level and frequencies of crimes all of which have

certain common features namely, the use of force and the use of weapons,

including the lethal AK-47 assault rifle. The question is whether these crimes,

as they are still described, have a political motive or edge to them. In

October, 2004, the Commissioner of Police made remarks to suggest that the

criminal elements on the East Coast had a political agenda. This sentiment is

now being echoed by the President. If what they say is true then we are in

serious trouble and something must be done urgently and immediately to avert

the coming anarchy. Insurgencies take root and thrive where there are

governments that are incompetent, corrupt, and place continued enjoyment of

power ahead of making changes and reforms that would negate the insurgent’s

appeal. Most experts agree that a viable insurgency has three defining



style=’font:7.0pt “Times New Roman”‘>    

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>It is organized as seen from signs of planning, a

hierarchy of command, and a distribution of function within its ranks.


style=’font:7.0pt “Times New Roman”‘>    

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>It relies on armed force to advance its cause. This

armed force is usually deployed in the countryside.


style=’font:7.0pt “Times New Roman”‘>    

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>The activity is not a brief affair, but lasts for


A cursory examination of Guyana’s

circumstances establishes the presence of one or more of these characteristics.

This in itself does not point to any political agenda to remove the existing

government, or to re-arrange the political status quo. Experts have been

careful to point to the fact that criminal gangs involved in kidnappings,

narco-trafficking, and robbery are just as organized, and can also have the

self same characteristics as an insurgent force. However, where we are, and

what we are to do about it, are matters that should concern all of Guyana’s

leaders. Rather than repeating unsubstantiated generalizations we need an

intelligence led operation to ascertain and analyse what is taking place in


With the daring and spectacular assault on

the East Bank seen in conjunction with the disappearance of 33 AK-47’s and an

assortment of handguns, the fear that grips Guyana is palpable and can be felt

everywhere. Of all the weapons most feared, is the AK-47 which is often

described as the world’s most popular assault rifle capable of indiscriminately

firing 600 rounds per minute. One realistic observation put forward as to the

AK’s awesomeness is: "There it is, the AK-47. When you absolutely, positively,

have to kill every single person in the room, accept no substitute." The

military has a lot of explaining to do and seems oddly enough more interested

in who on the outside could have moved the weapons, than on those on the

inside, who must have assisted in carrying out the crime of the millennium.

Since the disclosure of the loss we have seen photographs published and heard

of DNA testing of heaps of human waste, but little else as to the serial

numbers of the weapons, and the names, ranks, and photographs of the persons

within the military who ought to be persons of interest.

The continued presence of these weapons on

the streets of Guyana is a matter of grave concern as we witness the steady

drift into lawlessness and anarchy. Every person, every organization, and every

leader, has a duty to stand united against those who would bring our country

into chaos. The Alliance For Change extends its support to the security forces

in their fight and remains ready, willing, and able to assist in crafting a

strategy to stave off the coming anarchy. It would be remiss and irresponsible

of us if we did not take the opportunity to point out that systems have been

too lax and someone must be held responsible. This situation if left alone

without drastic intervention has the potential to plunge this country into an

unprecedented dark and dangerous period.

Yours faithfully, Raphael Trotman

2006-3-31: The Alliance for

Change and the fine art of sales By Paul Sanders (Caribbean Daylight)


Oh my gosh! We have found a new gig that

pitches tasty foods, delightful drinks and a great company of men and women who

are just party animals. The “party” part is more important than the

“animals” part. There’s a reason for that.

Last weekend, the Mangoville Lounge was jamming

with Caribbean rhythms and brimming over with a colorful cast of Indo and Afro

Guyanese folks celebrating change. Lots of changes too!

The food was strictly Indian with a marvelous

touch of authentic Indo-Afro Guyanese blend, fusing tradition and technique. It

was one of those “home-grown” flavors that is a huge departure and

a fascinating time-out from the rum-shop/cookshop “authentic Guyanese

cuisine” that clutter the Richmond Hill – and some neighborhoods in

Brooklyn -areas. Well, that’s a good change. Celebration, c’mon!

But one thing remains unchanged in these

get-togethers. The bar is literally a watering hole for real party animals.

Like desert creatures anticipating a long, scorching trip in the sun, the guys

were guzzling up drinks and stockpiling them in their body reservoir for the

long haul. In a sense, the bar was an oasis, and no one was moving until they

were completely replenished.

The fundraising dinner that benefited the

Alliance for Change was in many ways a grand event – and a great adventure

in exploring Indo-Afro relations. Like the aroma of curry and the different

flavors of true Guyanese ingredients, Indo and Afro Guyanese were participating

with each other, exchanging notes, toasting and working together on a formula

to get rid of the disease that’s eating Guyana.

So how is it possible that folks were writing

out checks much bigger than their week’s salary? Because people were

investing into the future of Guyana’s politics. Like the futures market,

folks were convinced that a down payment today would earn great dividends

tomorrow – or next week. They were absolutely sure that they were

qualified investors and shareholders in Guyana’s future prosperity.

And how big is this market? As big as Guyana

itself. And the actual market segment is the totality of the voters list. And

if PPP outcast Khemraj Ramjattan is to be taken seriously, this market for his

political vision is enlightened by the madness that is developing in the Guyana

equation. His political premise is simple: The diffuse, fast moving threat of

social, economic and political collapse requires a fast, moving response.

To put it another way: there is a huge

windfall given the PPP/Civic’s ineffectualness and the PNC/R’s lack

of credibility to run an efficient government as an alternative. And anyone

with a sense of Guyana’s turmoil today will easily gravitate toward the

politics of change as a radical alternative. At least that’s what the

brokers are saying. But this is going to be a different ball game than the

commodities trading market.

The Alliance for Change believes that they

have just run into a political bonanza. Strange how they seem to detect

opportunities in a minefield of corruption, racism and brutal violence in the

land they call “home.”

So when pitchman Khemraj Ramjattan and

colleague Sheila Holder arrived in town last week to provide impetus to the

marketing strategy they were both aware of the political season. Both speakers

worked the floor, shaking hands, greeting people and extending personal

invitations while revving up interest in the audience.

In his discourse, Ramjattan started things

off by explaining the current position of the PPP and the PNC/R in relation to

the growing influence of the Alliance for Change. He warned that it

wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. He continued to reiterate the

differences he had with the PPP while he was with them; he also shared the

positions of Sheila Holder and Raphael Trotman who subsequently left their

respective base.

Ramjattan stated that the trading will get

rough (meaning hot clashes with PPP and PNC/R hoodlums); hard times will be

ahead but the payoff will be magnificent. “Panic,” he assured the

audience, “both parties are showing signs of nervousness at the sway of

the Alliance of Change. We are digging roots in the villages across the


Damn right. The anxiety has already rippled

outside Guyana. The PPP support group in New York had deployed their

“crashers” Saturday night on a recon mission to evaluate, access

the progress at the Mangoville meeting. Confident that they were incognito, the

dumb, rookie spies misunderstood their welcome even though the ghost whisperers

had snickered satirical cordiality at their entry. And their “next

day” delivery of the bad news was leading story in their session.

In the crowded hall, Ramjattan quickly went

over the relationship of both the PPP and the PNC/R pointing out the evolution

of Guyana’s disaster. A “symbiotic” relationship he

synthesized, recalling some history to illustrate the point. In dismissing their

importance, he referred to both parties as “dinosaurs.”

There’s always something majestic in a

stranger who’d stop by to detail to you what you’ve always felt and

known. Guest speaker David Cosada, an ex-employee of the U.S. State Department

and currently a writer, gave a synopsis on the Carroll Thomas case. Remember

the visa scandal in Georgetown a few years ago?

David Casavis was an investigator in that

matter which required him to stay in Guyana for a while. According to him, his

inquiry was limited to the embassy case but the tour offered him a first hand

look at the rot and decay at the carcasses of Guyana’s body politics -and

the ever burgeoning corrupt bureaucracy in the PPP/Civic’s


To the supporters of the Alliance for Change,

David Cosada hit stardom that evening. His speech gave credence and bolster

confidence in the struggle to free up Guyana from the clutches of the


By the time the speeches and photo-ops were

finished, people were throwing away money in this project. One man showed up

with $50,000. Others were happily casting their envelopes in the tithe basket.

Yup, big money. Big business. Big ambitions.

Ramjattan was right; nothing can be achieved without pumping lots of money into

it. People were authorizing contributions as if an explorer had just stumbled

upon the Golden City of El Dorado. Call it risky financial and political

behavior, but the dollar amount was enormous.

Whatever it is the Alliance for Change has

tripped up upon in New York, it seems to be working with an infectious appeal.

So deep the Alliance for Change has plunged into so-called PPP/PNC territory,

some say, even a few PPP folks were selling tickets in Queens for the


The folks at Freedom House ought to feel a heart

attack coming on.

2006-4-17: More information

on poll issues needed from GECOM – AFC says (Stabroek News)


The Guyana Elections Com-mission (GECOM)

needs to inform the public about the issues that ought to be addressed in

relation to the upcoming elections, the Alliance For Change (AFC) said.

At a press conference held at its Cummings

Street headquarters on Wednesday, the AFC said GECOM needs to reveal the

process by which an acceptable list of electors would be compiled for the

elections and how, when and through what process recruitment and training of

the some 15,000 electoral officials needed for the conduct of elections would

be accomplished.

The press conference, according to AFC

Vice-Chairman Sheila Holder, was the first in what is expected to be a regular

feature for the party.

The AFC said GECOM needs to say how and when

the 2,000-odd polling places, adequately provisioned with sanitary facilities

and electricity would be identified; when and through what procedure the

printing and placement of the Preliminary Voters List (PVL) for the

distribution around the country would be done; and what tested system is in

place for communicating results of the elections in the various divisions

within a reasonable time (by the end of polling) given the collapse of the

cellular phone system in the last elections and the protests, confusion and

violence that ensued when announcement of the elections results was extensively


GECOM also needs to say what options it is

considering to deal with the various forms of multi-registrants if these are

found at the conclusion of the Jamaican Biometrics System, which has been

employed for that purpose. It also needs to say when, how and where ballots

would be printed for the elections.

AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, said GECOM is

not doing the best of jobs as regards these issues and needs to be more

forthcoming to give the electorate some confidence in the process.

GECOM has since advised President Bharrat

Jagdeo that elections will not be possible until after August 30, 2006. The

constitutional deadline is August 4.

The AFC also suggested that GECOM and its

secretariat, under the control of the Chief Election Officer, ensure that on

elections day every voter would be able to cast a secret ballot in circumstances

free from fear and intimidation. The party also called for respect for the

meaning of Article 161B of the Constitution, which limits the role of political

parties and their nominees in the conduct of elections, and which specifically

precludes them from any form of active management of the electoral process.

GECOM should uphold firmly the principle of equality among political parties,

which must of necessity mean the dismissal of the categorisation being peddled

in some quarters and which seeks to differentiate between parliamentary parties

and non-parliamentary parties as if the former possessed more entitlements than

the latter in an elections race, the AFC said.

Elections must be delivered under the

principle of ‘one man, one vote’, the party said, since GECOM must ensure that

disenfranchisement of eligible voters is a thing of the past and that there is

no multiple voting or potential for stuffing of ballot boxes after the close of


With regard to a delay in the holding of the

elections, AFC Chairman and presidential candidate Raphael Trotman said the

party would not mind if there was a reasonable delay of probably three to four

months but it did not want there to be a caretaker government in the interim.

Speaking of the code of conduct for political

parties and candidates, which the AFC drafted and invited other political

parties to sign on to Trotman said they were disappointed at the negative

response of the other political parties. He said the AFC had sent copies of the

code to all the political parties and was surprised that some parties said that

they had not seen it. Unofficial discussions were also held on the code as

well. However, he said, the AFC would abide by the code and the party was also

prepared to sign onto any prepared by GECOM, the Inter-Religious Organisation

or others once it was in keeping with best practices. Ramjattan was of the view

that the other political parties were not appreciative of the code because they

felt "the AFC had stolen their thunder."

height=1 id=”_x0000_i1029″ src=”images/LatestNews_img_3.jpg”>



The AFC, as one of the contesting political

parties in the upcoming General and Regional Elections, holds the view that

free and fair elections require adoption of the following by GECOM and its

Secretariat under the control of the Chief Elections Officer (CEO):

The ability of every voter on elections day

to be able to cast a secret ballot in circumstances free from fear and

intimidation. The CEO and his staff, in keeping with the Constitution and the

relevant electoral laws shoulder the responsibility for making arrangements for

efficient polling, counting of ballots, tabulating of votes and declaring the


Respect for the meaning of article 161B of

the Constitution which limits the role of political parties and their nominees

in the conduct of elections, and which specifically precludes them from any

form of active management of the electoral process. Contesting political

parties must not be allowed to undertake responsibilities legally assigned to

the Chief Election Officer who is required to create a level playing field for

all contesting political parties without interference or coercion. Such

interference has to date undermined the electoral process, and created

unnecessary tension, fear and distrust. Our history of a divided politics which

generally permits unscrupulous politicians to play on elections-time emotions

and fears in furtherance of their own interests will only derail free and fair

elections. It is the objective of the AFC to prevent this.

Upholding firmly the principle of equality

among contesting political parties must by necessity mean the dismissal of the

categorization being peddled I some quarters and which seeks to differentiate

between “parliamentary parties” and “non-parliamentary

parties” as if the former possessed more entitlements than the latter in

an elections race. Equal treatment of all contesting parties therefore; require

that no party be seen to have an advantage over any other. All Contesting

parties should have equitable access to the state-owned mass media and all

other media outlets and should agree on an Electoral Code that sets agreed

standards for mobilising financial and other resources; should adopt standards

of behaviour for candidates; should meet all existing legal post-elections

reporting requirements and that should determine specific consequences for

violating all agreed standards

The delivery by GECOM of elections where the

principle of “one man, one vote” is truly a reality; where

disenfranchisement of eligible voters is a thing of the past and where there is

no multiple voting or potential for stuffing of ballot boxes after the close of


It is therefore, on the basis of these

principles that the AFC sees the verification of the Official List of Electors

(OLE) as a tool, exclusively in the hands of the CEO and his technical

personnel in the GECOM Secretariat to be used for the purpose of delivering an

acceptable Preliminary Voters List so certified by him.

Based on the Guyanese elections experience

and those in other countries, the contesting parties need to have a frank

discussion on the ways in which the vote can be manipulated; then the GECOM

Secretariat should be asked to indicate how these will be dealt with to ensure

one man, one vote.

The AFC feels that all fears and concerns

surrounding elections could be allayed through negotiation between GECOM and

the contesting parties and therefore recommends the use of facilitation by an

institution such as the OAS or any other credible institution to settle this


The AFC reserves the right to express

legitimate concerns as regards the slippages which have occurred to

GECOM’s timelines and opines that the public needs to know why this

happened and what is being done to remedy the situation.

In the meantime, other important questions

pertaining to the state of readiness of GECOM and its Secretariat ought to be

addressed and the public be informed about. These questions include the


id=”_x0000_i1030″ src=”images/LatestNews_img_4.jpg”>What is the process by

which an acceptable list of electors will be compiled for the elections?

id=”_x0000_i1031″ src=”images/LatestNews_img_5.jpg”>How, when and through what

process will recruitment and training of approximately 15,000 electoral

officials needed for the conduct of elections be accomplished?


style=’font:7.0pt “Times New Roman”‘>     

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>How and when will the identification of the 2,000-odd

polling places needed to be found that are adequately provisioned with sanitary

facilities, electricity, etc. be accomplished?


style=’font:7.0pt “Times New Roman”‘>    

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>When and through what procedure will the printing and placement

of the PVL for distribution around the country be accomplished?


style=’font:7.0pt “Times New Roman”‘>    

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>What tested system is in place for communicating

results of the elections in the various divisions within a reasonable time (by

the day’s end of poll) given the


style=’font:7.0pt “Times New Roman”‘>    

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>collapse of the cellular phone system in the last

elections and the protests, confusion, violence that ensued when announcement

of the elections results were extensively delayed in the previous elections?


style=’font:7.0pt “Times New Roman”‘>     

style=’font-size:13.5pt’>What options are being considered by GECOM to deal

with the various forms of multi-registrants if found at the conclusion of the

Jamaican Biometrics System being employed for that purpose?

id=”_x0000_i1032″ src=”images/LatestNews_img_6.jpg”>When, how and where will

ballots be printed for the elections?

height=1 id=”_x0000_i1033″ src=”images/LatestNews_img_7.jpg” align=””>

border=0 width=4 height=1 id=”_x0000_i1034″ src=”images/LatestNews_img_8.jpg”


src=”images/LatestNews_img_9.jpg” align=””>

2006-5-1: More inclusiveness

needed to avoid constitutional crisis – Raphael Trotman –says PPP/C,

PNCR cannot solve problems alone (Kaieteur News)


Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC),

Raphael Trotman has stated that a constitutional crisis in Guyana could be

avoided during the run-up to elections if involvement in the solution is

widened to include major stakeholders such as civil society and contesting

parties in the 2006 polls.

Trotman described the stage after the due

date for the dissolution of Parliament on May 4 as a “period of

constitutional unorthodoxy.”

He stated that the AFC accepts that the

country has to be governed until general elections are held and, as such,

supports the continuance of the current executive at the helm, providing that

the executive is prepared to abide by certain conditions. These conditions

include the acceptance that there is no longer a government and opposition but

parties contesting the elections. The PPP/C will be acting as the trustee or

custodian of the State and is expected to manage the affairs of the State

responsibly. Trotman said this means not abusing State resources, not

suppressing the political fortunes of other political parties and not utilising

State resources in select constituencies in a

discriminatory manner. “We believe that

the use of all State resources, including but not limited to the State media,

should be available to all contesting parties to ensure a level playing

field.” Trotman also suggested that police protection should be provided

to candidates of all parties contesting the elections, as what obtains in

Jamaica . Speaking on the current impasse in the Guyana Elections Commission

(GECOM) where the opposition-nominated have withdrawn from the Commission, the

AFC Chairman said he

shared the disappointment of the nation that

six competent men cannot ‘get it right’. He mused that maybe if a female

was involved in the process at the GECOM level then elections probably would

have been held by the August 4, 2006 constitutionally due date. “The

image of GECOM is of a broken, disjointed, and disunited group made up of

individuals, each clinging to narrow political and partisan interests,”

he said. “They may all very

well be right and they may all very well be

wrong but unfortunately the debate as to correctness is past and what we are

most interested in is a solution as to how to extricate ourselves from this

looming disaster.” Trotman stated that if no elections are held in the

near future, the country will continue to spiral out of control and collapse

will hasten. He pointed out that Guyana is faced with a possible constitutional

crisis because GECOM has failed to deliver elections by the August 4 date. The

functioning of the Legislative and Executive branches of the State will proceed

into an unprecedented and unwelcome mode of unorthodoxy,” he said. He

noted that such a situation last occurred in 1990 under the Hoyte

administration when the PNC used its two-thirds majority to extend the life of

Parliament. The ruling PPP/C has only 51% control of Parliament.

Trotman said every effort should be made to

avoid a constitutional crisis. He noted that President Bharrat Jagdeo and

Opposition Leader Robert Corbin have met to begin addressing the problems but

he reminded of the track record of talks between the two sides which he said is

less than encouraging.

“Once the rules of engagement are

accepted that the PPP/C and the PNCR alone cannot be depended upon to pull us

back from the brink, then we can begin in earnest to engage in serious

negotiations as to the several viable options presenting themselves, including

an extension of the life of the incumbent government with

conditionalities.” Trotman underscored his party’s position that

verification of the 2001 Official List of Electors is a must for the upcoming

elections to be conducted in a free and fair manner. He said GECOM has to

identify the form of verification to be used, since house-to-house verification

is just one form.

“GECOM needs to deal with the burning

issue that the list could be padded and identify the best way to deal with it

on elections day to ensure one vote – one person,” he said. Trotman is of

the view that there will not be a total absence of fear surrounding the

upcoming elections, in the wake of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh’s

assassination and given the fact that there have been disruptions at previous


“It is for the police and the Guyana

Defence Force to assure the nation that they could take care of the security

concerns,” he said. “We expect that they will be honest with the

nation and indicate if they are unable to do

so and, if so, seek assistance from the CARICOM security forces in the same way

we provided support to others in the time of need.” Asked about a report

that a recent poll conducted by US expert, Dr. Frank Luntz, which shows that

AFC could garner 25% of the votes if elections were held now, Trotman offered

no comment.

Dr. Luntz is an experienced pollster whose

company operates out of the US . Kaieteur News was reliably informed that the

recently commissioned poll showed that the AFC could win the equivalent of 16

seats on Parliament. This means that the vote in Parliament could split at

least three ways, with the PPP/C and the PNCR taking up the majority of the

other votes. Trotman refused to say if he is aware of the poll or who

commissioned it. But he did indicate that the AFC will soon take on board the

services of an experienced overseas-based campaign manager. (Andrew Richards)


style=’font-size:13.5pt;color:blue’>Clinton ‘s campaign manager to head AFC

elections charge

A former campaign manager of US President

Bill Clinton will be in Guyana next week under the auspices of the Alliance For

Change (AFC). The AFC intends to recruit him to head the party’s campaign for

the 2006 general elections.

When contacted yesterday, AFC Chairman

Raphael Trotman confirmed that Dick Morris will head the AFC’s campaign team.

Trotman did not elaborate but said Morris worked with Mexico ‘s President

Vincente Fox, and also in the United Kingdom , Argentina and Japan . Morris

will now be bringing his skills to the AFC in an effort to boost the party’s

chances at the elections slated to be held no later than September 3, 2006.

Trotman said that Morris will hold a press conference during his visit to

Guyana to give a more detailed outlook on how he intends to work with the AFC.

According to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Morris was born in New York City and

is a political author and commentator who was once a successful pollster and

campaign consultant. Morris is best known for managing Bill Clinton’s

successful 1996 bid for re-election to the office of President of the United

States . Morris has since turned his focus to media

commentary. He now writes a weekly column for

the New York Post and appears regularly on the Fox News Channel. The Wikipedia

Encyclopedia said Morris has emerged as a harsh critic of the Clintons and has

written several books that criticize them, including Rewriting History — a

rebuttal to

Senator Hillary Clinton’s Living History.

Morris first worked with Bill and Hillary Clinton during Bill Clinton’s

successful 1978 bid for Governor of Arkansas.

Though he did not work on Bill Clinton’s

unsuccessful re-election campaign in 1980, Morris helped him win back the

governor’s office in 1982 and continued to work with him in subsequent

campaigns. Morris did not have a role in Clinton ‘s successful 1992

presidential campaign, which instead was headed by James Carville and Paul

Begala. After the 1994 mid-term election where Republicans took control of both

houses of Congress and gained considerable power in the states, Clinton once

again sought Morris’s help to

prepare for the 1996 presidential election.

It was Morris who proposed a strategy of

“triangulation”, where Bill Clinton would appeal to a diverse group

of voters by distancing himself from both the Democratic and Republican


2006-5-10: AFC’s consultant Dick

Morris to launch party’s poll today(Stabroek News)


In its bid for political office the Alliance

For Change (AFC) has brought on board American political consultant Dick Morris

who is expected to reveal today details of a poll commissioned by the party in

which it is showing 25% support from the electorate.

Morris, who is credited with piloting former

Ameri-can President, Bill Clinton to a comeback re-election victory in 1996

after the he had lost Congress to the Republicans two years before, was expected

in the country last night and is expected to hold a press conference at Le

Meridien Pegasus this afternoon.

AFC Presidential Candidate Raphael Trotman

told Stabroek News on Monday that Morris has been working with the party since

January. Describing him as a specialist in detecting electoral fraud, who would

no doubt be able to detect it and root it out if and when he finds it, Trotman

said this was one of the reasons why the AFC had welcomed him.

Morris’s association with Clinton began in

1977 when he handled his successful campaign to become the Governor of Arkansas

and the youngest in the nation. He did not work on his campaign for re-election

in 1980 when he was defeated but oversaw his comeback victory in 1982 and his

re-election in 1984, 1986 and 1990.He has worked with other senators and

governors and for Mexican President Vicente Fox. Speaking briefly about the

most recent poll conducted on the AFC’s behalf which is some 300 pages long,

the party’s leader Khemraj Ramjattan said that it was the third the AFC had

commissioned and it showed an increase in support for the party for the

upcoming general and regional elections.

While he noted that the previous poll showed

17% support for the AFC he did not say what were the results of the first poll commissioned.

However, he did indicate that the support base is mainly in the younger age

group but said that Mr Morris would reveal who had done the poll and answer

questions on it at today’s press conference. This, Ramjattan said, would also

set the party in campaign mode for the elections. The party’s campaign manager

is Clayton Hall.

The AFC has also begun the production of its

official organ, The Key, which is published every two months and so far is

being circulated free of cost.

2006-5-11: Poll shows Trotman

with 21% of the vote – US pollster If general elections were held today,

President Bharrat Jagdeo would win 40% of the vote; PNCR Leader, Robert Corbin,

36% and the Alliance For Change (AFC) presidential candidate Raphael Trotman,

21%; while the smaller political parties would get 3%.

So said American pollster and elections

campaign strategist, Dick Morris who is currently serving as a consultant to

the AFC. Morris feels that the AFC as a party and Trotman as its presidential

candidate have an excellent chance of winning the upcoming general elections,

taking a number of seats in parliament and ending voting along racial lines.

Morris made these statements at a press

conference at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel yesterday while giving a sketch of the

results of the survey he conducted in March along with Republican pollster

American Frank Lunz. A total of 1,063 eligible voters were interviewed

throughout the country, which he said meant that about one out of every 750

Guyanese was sampled.

The methodology of the survey was not

disclosed. There was no mention at the press conference of how many votes

smaller parties such as the GAP/ROAR alliance, the Justice For All Party headed

by television owner CN Sharma or the WPA would gather. There was also no mention

of how the question was framed and whether respondents were given the names of

leaders and asked who they supported.

Also at the press conference were Trotman;

AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan; Vice Chairman, Sheila Holder; media consultant,

Frank Barath and political consultant Luiz Morales.

The survey is said to have a 95% accuracy

rate and if every person in the country was interviewed the results would be

the same plus or minus 3%, Morris said.

Morris said that among mixed voters the

results were 43% for Corbin; 33% for Trotman; 22% for Jagdeo; and 2% for the


The poll, Morris said could have the tipping

point that would be a revolution to shake Guyanese politics to its foundation

and "if there is any country’s politics that needs to be shook" it

was Guyana’s. He believes that Trotman and the AFC could get at least 30% of

the votes at the elections which would effectively make it a three-way tie.

Two months ago Trotman and the AFC polled 17%

of the votes according to a poll the AFC had commissioned.

Stating that most voters believe that the

government was corrupt; drug dealers out of control; economic development

lagging badly and the party in government was probably the only

pseudo-communist Marxist/Leninist party in power in the world except for Cuba

and North Korea, he said that the AFC offers the chance to assuage the fears of

the other racial groups sufficiently so that change becomes possible.

Among Afro-Guyanese, Corbin polled 64% of the

votes; Trotman, 27%, Jagdeo, 6% and others 3%. Among the Indo-Guyanese voters

where Jagdeo got 80% of the votes; Trotman got 12% and Corbin 6%, indicating,

he said, that Trotman was demonstrating an ability to pull from both sides of

the ethnic divide.

Earlier in his introductory remarks, Morris

said that he could not think of another country in the world that has a fully

integrated civil society like Guyanese where Indo and Afro Guyanese go to

school together, play together, work for each other in business together and

even inter-marry, but could not get along in politics. To see political

polarization along a racial line was unique in the world.

Morris said when they probed further about

the political parties in the country, they found there was huge discontent from

a quarter to a third from the Indo-Guyanese voters with the PPP, while half of

the Afro Guyanese voters were discontented with the PNCR.

Among the Indo Guyanese, half said there was

too much corruption in the PPP; 38% of Indo-Guyanese voters said the PPP had

"let drug dealers get too much power;" 25% of Indo-Guyanese voters

said the PPP had been in power for too long; 27% said the PPP "does not do

a good job of addressing the real needs of the Indian community;" 46% of

Indo-Guyanese voters said the PPP keeps power "only because Indian voters

feel it is the only way to avoid the repression which we experienced in the 70s

and the 80s"; and 35% of Indo Guyanese voters say it would be better to

replace the PPP with "an ethnically balanced party."

These numbers, he said, gave the impression that

it was possible for the AFC to peel off about a quarter or a third of the

Indo-Guyanese votes if there is a genuine bi-racial multi-ethnic alternative

party to vote for. The reason for hanging on and voting for the PPP is because

they are scared to death of what would happen if the PNCR ever took office.

Most of them do not believe that the PNCR could change; that Corbin could grow

new spots; and they continue to vote for a party they do not like much but feel

they need because the alternative would be to surrender the role of governing

to a group of politicians they do not trust.

Among Afro-Guyanese voters, 37% said the PNCR

has not really "changed since the days of repression and has not learnt

its lesson;" 45% said it would be better to replace the PNCR with an

ethnically balanced party;" which gives an indication that there was a

real recognition among Afro-Guyanese that the PNCR cannot win the elections, he


Forty-nine to thirty-five mixed voters

believe that the PNCR "keeps losing elections because of its past;"

and 40 to 38 agree that "Indian voters and those of mixed or Indigenous

ancestry will not vote for the PNCR because of its past."

Noting that the polls focused on Indo and

Afro Guyanese and did not take into account the views of the Indigenous peoples

who represent 10% of the country’s population and how they would affect the

polls, Morris said that he thought that the Indigenous peoples would be

supportive of the AFC. "But I don’t know that because we had too few in

our polls for a statistically significant amount. We polled 1,000 people. We

had about 80 or 90 who were Indigenous, which is what it should be, but it was

too small a group to be able to analyse the data. So for technical reasons I

did not comment on it. But I bet my bottom dollar they would be heavily

involved with the AFC."

Asked how much he was being paid to assist in

the AFC campaign, Morris said he decides every elections cycle that he would do

one campaign pro bono where he would be reimbursed for travel, accommodation

and polling but an actual fee, "I wouldn’t charge one." He added that

Guyana couldn’t pay a fee even if he charged one and even if the AFC won it

wouldn’t be able to pay him. "So, it’s no great loss," he said. His

previous free service offered was in the Ukraine and Mexico.

Asked about his history of losses, he said he

has made about 100 mistakes but did predict a number of victories, which he

assisted in. These included President Bill Clinton’s reelection; Vicente Fox in

Mexico; and others that ended years and decades of political domination in

Argentina, Taiwan, Japan, Ukraine and Romania.

On the detection of electoral fraud, Morris

said that in Guyana "we are going to do an exit poll on election day, which

is going to be an extensive poll and very expensive poll that would predict the

results of the elections extraordinarily accurately and the government wouldn’t

have a chance to monkey with the numbers because the exit poll results would be

released five minutes after the polls closed." He said that a similar

exercise was done in Mexico and the government did not have a chance to adjust

the numbers. The exit poll showed a victory by seven points and four million

people in Mexico City demonstrated that night and the government could not come

out three days later with the results.

Times for airing of “AFC

On the Move”

HBTV Ch 9. Tuesdays 9:30 – 9:45 pm CNS

CH. 6 Sundays 8:30 – 8-45 pm LRTVS CH. 10 Sundays 5:00 – 5:15 pm RCA Ch.

8 Thursdays 7:45 – 8:00 pm NCN LINDEN Saturdays 8:00 – 8:15 pm

TARZIE BARTICA Fridays 7:00 – 7:15 pm VCT CH. 28 Tuesday 6:30 –

7:00 pm

2006-6-15: Can the AFC

deliver? (Stella Ramsaroop – Kaieteur News) There are times in life when you might get an

unexpected surprise. Those unguarded moments make life interesting because we

never truly know what lies around the next corner. Just such an occurrence

happened to me this week.

I was reading an Internet forum for Guyanese

on Tuesday where one conversation remarked that the AFC is picking up a lot of

support with the younger generation. Although this makes perfect sense, the

remark still took me completely by surprise.

It is difficult to gauge any progress the AFC

is making because they are not in the news on a daily basis embroiled in one

political battle or another, like the PPP and the PNC. Thus, it is sometimes

easy to mark such an entity off as out of sight, out of mind.

However, this does not seem to be the case

with the AFC after all. One Guyanese on this forum said, "I keep hearing

people and I mean lots of people saying, ‘ Alliance boy, the Alliance . I’m

giving the Alliance my vote’."

If this is the case, the very first question

I am forced to ask myself is whether the AFC can deliver for Guyana . If we are

to be honest with ourselves, it would be irresponsible to vote for such a

drastic change without first determining whether this baby party is up for the


It seems that when Guyana achieved its

independence, those who were entrusted with governing the nation were not ready

for the task at hand. This was the case with many of the colonies when they

were granted their independence. It is difficult enough to learn how to govern

a nation when it is young and just forming.

But to take over the leadership of an already

established nation, with previously established problems, is a task that is

most times beyond even the most well-intentioned leaders. The good intentions

of early leaders never really got to mature and many of these nations have

floundered about for decades.

So what makes the AFC any different from the

PPP or the PNC? Does this new party finally have the right type of leaders to

help Guyana recover from a long history of problematic leadership? Maybe.

To start with, the AFC has Raphael Trotman,

Khemraj Ramjattan and Sheila Holder – all of whom are seasoned leaders.

Moreover, these leaders have somehow found a way to work together long enough

to make this party gel. This is a tremendous feat in Guyana .

How many other politicians have attempted an

alliance of this magnitude and failed? It is utterly frustrating to watch

supposed mature and intelligent leaders bicker and posture over minor

territorial issues when the real focus should be the best interests of the


Could it be that Guyana does have some leaders

who can see the big picture and work together for the good of the country? I

must say that it is impressive just to see the AFC come this far without

imploding like many of the other "third party" hopefuls.

What this means to me is that there must be

an overarching attitude of compromise from within the party. If so, this in

itself is very positive news. If they can work with each other, regardless of

their differences, then perhaps they have what it takes to govern a country

like Guyana, where the people have spent so much time focusing on their

differences that they have forgotten there are some very advantageous


However, seasoned leadership and the ability

to build a cohesive team from a diverse group of individuals do not exempt the

AFC from the temptation of corruption. I truly believe that when an upright and

conscientious government finds its way into office in Guyana , it would be the

day when the people will start enjoying a far better standard of living.

When all foreign aid goes to its assigned

purpose, when bribes and kickbacks to government officials are absolutely

forbidden, when there is a government who will openly account for the money it

spends, when there are leaders who know how to facilitate economic growth

– this is when Guyana will be better off.

Can the AFC do this? Can they pull off such

an enormous task when historic precedence is pressing down on them to be as

corrupt as the last two parties? I cannot answer that question.

However, I can say with confidence that

neither of the last two parties have been able to create an effective

government that would produce a thriving country. And neither party has found a

way to work together for the good of the people. At least the AFC has done this


As the PPP and the PNC do everything within

their power to divide the nation by race in the next few months leading up to

the election, it will be interesting to see if the AFC will find a way to bring

their spirit of compromise into Guyanese politics at large.

2006-6-18: GECOM must

pronounce on voters list sanitisation – Trotman (Stabroek News)


The Alliance For Change (AFC) will not be

comfortable with the Preliminary Voters’ List (PVL) until the Guyana Elections

Commission (GECOM) can say what the claims and objections process has achieved,

including expunging the names of the deceased and of persons not residing

permanently in Guyana.

GECOM needs also to say how the PVL would be

verified to the satisfaction and comfort levels of all political parties, AFC

Chairman and presidential candidate Raphael Trotman told Stabroek News in a

telephone interview on Friday.

Trotman said GECOM and other stakeholders

need to ensure that the PVL meets international standards.

The upcoming general elections, he said,

"are not a club elections and the process by whichever party is elected to

run the government should stand the scrutiny of Guya-nese as well as the

international community. So where do we stand? We believe that the list should

be sanitised, that there should be verification."

Asked how the party felt about house-to-house

verification, which is currently a bone of contention between the PPP/C and the

PNCR, Trotman said that as one of the parties contesting the upcoming

elections, the AFC wants the list to be as sanitized as it could ever be, to

meet "…our comfort and… the comfort levels of all the contesting

parties and other stakeholders."

The AFC believes GECOM needs to say to the

nation how the list would be verified to the satisfaction of all. "We will

not go into a position of comfort or satisfaction until we know, for example,

what is happening with the fingerprinting exercise being done by the Jamaican

electoral office."

Stating that GECOM needs to allay the fears

and concerns of everyone at this stage, he said the AFC could not say whether

it was satisfied with elections preparations until it knows what safeguards

were in place to ensure "one person, one vote" on polling day.

The party, he said, was aware of the stuffing

of ballot boxes and what could happen if the names of the dead or those who

live outside Guyana permanently remain on the Official List of Electors (OLE).

Asked about the party’s silence on the issue

of the house-to-house verification, Trotman said the AFC did not subscribe to

the view that it must enter into destructive politics characterised by the

"shouting matches" mainly between the PPP/C and the PNCR.

In a letter to this newspaper, G Nurse had

said the party’s silence on certain issues was a sign of weakness and

deviousness in competitive politics. But Trotman said the AFC had no intention

of becoming involved in "a big shouting match in which no one gets

heard." Rather, he said, the AFC would continue to pick the issues on

which it felt statements should be made and do so at the appropriate time.

In addition, he said the AFC’s opinion is

that there was no longer anything like competitive politics in Guyana. "We

have destructive politics, where you go out not to compete based on issues or

personalities. You are literally sent out on the front line to deliberately

destroy the leadership and the ranks of the other camp. So the practice of

politics in Guyana does not fit the standard mode of competitive politics where

the more deserving or best candidate wins based on issues and a good

programme," he said.

Claiming G. Nurse was a pen name of a very

senior official of a political party, whom he knows, Trotman said the letter

was meant to appear to come from an impartial onlooker.

He said the shouting match between the PPP/C

and the PNCR was quite normal and it took place every five years. "Those

who could remember would recall when Joseph Hamilton was skilfully able to have

thousands of names removed from the list. The PPP/C made the same counter arguments,

so this is not new. It is part of the cut and thrust of elections preparations

in Guyana."

Public meetings

Asked about public open-air meetings, Trotman

said once the campaign season was official, the AFC intended to hold public

meetings, but he was not sure about "whether we would hold mass


The AFC anticipates a difference in this

election campaign and that there might be less emphasis on public meetings

given the blanket of fear that exists with regard to crime. "Many people

may not be persuaded to come out for public meetings that go late into the

night but that does not say that they are not with you," he added.

He said the AFC anticipates that parties may

have to tailor their campaigns to deal with the issue of insecurity, especially

where persons are threatened or are afraid to come out on their own.

But the AFC has already begun holding public

outdoor meetings and has held one in at Port Kaituma in Region One

(Barima/Waini) where several hundred people attended, he said.

The traditional politicking would continue in

bottom houses and public indoor meetings. In preparation for the outdoors,

Trotman said, overseas supporters have donated public address systems,

generators and lighting systems.

Noting the support that the AFC has been receiving

countrywide and overseas, Trot-man said that the party was due to open branch

offices at the end of this month at Golden Grove on the East Coast Demerara;

Dundee, Mahaicony; D’Edward, West Coast Berbice and Leonora, West Coast


Donations in cash and kind had been

"coming in" from local and overseas-based supporters, Trotman said,

though he could not give a total figure, as he did not have it available at the

time of the interview. He said the donations were helping to meet the heavy

administrative expenses of maintaining ten offices and staff. "So we have

been getting enough to meet our operational expenses," he said.

Stating that the AFC’s campaign was

proceeding according to its own deliberate judgment and based on advice from

its campaign strategists and others, Trotman said that the AFC was waiting on

GECOM to signal exactly when elections would be held.

Coming as the underdog in the elections, he

said, it would be unwise not to be in a state of readiness. "We just hope

that when the elections are finally announced that we can all go at it as

competitors and respect each other’s positions and respect the outcome as well.

If there is to be a delay, we would deal with that then, but as of now we are

preparing for elections to be held in September," he said.

On talks with other political parties and on

public opinion, which appears to favour an AFC/GAP alliance, Trotman said at

present there are no official talks, but the AFC has not closed the doors to

other opposition political parties.

Noting an opinion piece which said that the

third force ideology is still kicking and in effect, he said the AFC’s policy

is to treat all of the third parties as allies, equals and as friends in the

field and on the campaign trail even if there is no official or formalised

coming together.

On the number of political parties that would

contest the elections, Trotman said he felt the 30-something parties would

eventually whittle down to about 12. And while he refrained from commenting on

how the other parties would fare, he was confident that the AFC would make an



Asked how he felt about the current issue of

the controversial tapes which purport to implicate Commissioner of Police

Winston Felix in illegal actions, Trotman said it was "of course being

politicised because we are in the political season. As I said, we are no longer

in competitive politics but in destructive politics. So each group or the major

parties have icons that they have to preserve and protect. Any attempt to knock

any of the icons off the pedestal is defended, and so you are in a constant

battle to gain prominence and to deny prominence."

And with regard to the government trying to

investigate or interdict the Police Commissioner, Trotman said that without the

voices on the tape being authenticated that was tantamount to putting the cart

before the horse. All those who made great mileage over what was said would not

be able to use it as evidence in keeping with law and procedure, he said.

With regard to Roger Khan, he said his arrest

would bring an end to the daily exchange of statements, counterstatements and

accusations in the media. "It was an unhealthy situation of having this

conversation going on in the press every day. I didn’t feel that it helped the

country’s image or that it augured well for the national security situation. I

read the papers with interest on Friday morning about his arrest and I am

surprised at the ease and simplicity in the way he was apprehended in another


2006-6: The Alliance for Change’s

infectious money drive by Paul Sanders Caribbean Daylight


Besides the American strategist Dick Morris,

the Alliance for Change has deployed yet another of it’s most formidable

long range missiles capable of hitting Guyana’s mainland last weekend in

the Bronx.

It was a successful test mission that

validated all planned parameters. And those who were itching for war were quite

comfortable with the results: the threat to the PPP Civic and the PNC/R is most

imminent. This missile is called “politics through arts and


It’s an irresistible compulsion: pump

up the volume, bring in the dancers, loose the comedians, and throw in a few

singing acts, fix the drinks, spice up the dinner and … hallelujah!

People were showing up with wads of cash

flaunting jingoism by the dollars. It’s the kind of patriot game, this

ritual self interrogation that tuned out the discouraging news about gas prices

and Middle East politics and bad weekend weather.

What in Heaven would that be? Here’s a

hint. Take international dancer Dheeraj and his troupe, for example. His piece

was small; yet no way inferior in a setting that was gorgeous and was best

appreciated seen up close. Against the infectious sound style of Anand

Yankaran, Dheeraj presented a wide-ranging piece with imagination and intricate


So was Jumping Jack who was a delightful

scene in which he invented himself as something between Johnny Walker and John

Travolta. His Bollywood act was an unusually lavish piece bringing vibrancy in his

comedic art form.

Trevolta Karran hit gold poking fun at corny

old creole telephone talk. His act was a cheery, self-mocking inventiveness

that was consistently fresh, tuneful and organic to the plot of a Guyanese

nephew panhandling his U.S. uncle on the phone. He even threw in a few

improvisional punch lines in a sort of ostentatious crudeness, reinvigorating

the AFC apart from “dat KFC fowl business.”

Now, what does this has to do with politics?

If you’re a PPP dialectician, and you haven’t picked up on that as

yet, tell yourself you’re stupid. This is what you call a new act of

revolutionary creativity, and PPP’s reprobate politician Khemraj

Ramjattan – a one time disillusioned young Central Executive Committee

member of the PPP, whose loud mouth openness about his party’s dirtiness

that has provoked some of the most dramatic showdowns in the press – is at it


The dinner and dance in the Bronx was

something very new. And it is not just a long way from the ideals of stomping

for support. It is the very antithesis. It represents a romantic break-away

from the usual “begging bowl” approach, an escape from the act of

belittling oneself and the freedom of reaching into one’s check book and

happily fill out the Payee’s line.

It is the power of the gospel according to

the AFC’s approach to fundraising. Nothing too strange here, but under

examination, you can find certain parallels with the Baptist church’s

method of evangelism.

It is here where the AFC has cleverly tapped

into: the reservoir of common people searching for a break from the everyday

drudgery of mediocre politics; where music, dance and food and wine act as an

ice breaker to forge newer friendships while strengthening existing ones.

Think about it. Nothing new. Really. But the

AFC has played this hand marvelously last weekend, bringing a sizeable audience

into a “concert” setting and appealing to their better

sensibilities. And it worked. The meeting represented the fury of many Guyanese

people desperate to escape the marginality imposed on them by the twisted

politics of Democratic Centralism and the wretched tactics of armed resistance.

No one could have said it better. Ramjattan

spoke with conviction inciting interest in Guyana’s deteriorating

politics and the hypocrisy inherent in the two monoliths. In fact, he submitted

that the tribal politics of both the PPP and the PNC/R is spiraling Guyana into

a lower part of hell. The atmosphere he presided felt distinctly different, the

concept of racial war more ominous.

The solution he proposed was the risky

business of departing from the Coolieman/Blackman syndrome in which both races

distrust each other under the leadership of their respective racial leaders. It

was a powerfully simple speech, and many people thought that his words stand as

an example of substance and music of politics in its grandest form and highest

purpose – to heal, to educate, to lead.

He challenged his supporters to demonstrate

Guyana’s healing by being a living example of neighborliness and

friendship. In other words, compassion, love and generosity that would jump

mathematics and race.

Pure Gospel. In the age of the politics of

the damned where the nasty new turn of events has characterized Guyana as a

place where mafia politics and gangsta violence are the feed of endless bad

news. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Now that sounded like this man is the brother

of Billy Graham. He was predictable and most influential. But he was also

firing away at what he called the curse of the “visa” mentality.

Ramjattan knocked a lot of sense into his audience, explaining that a sense of

malaise has become so pervasive that the Guyanese fighting spirit is fading

away and that everyone is hoping someday for a visa to leave the country.

Then add the pathetic “send some

money” pitch that has underscored the laziness that is rampant in some

areas in the country. Well, Ramjattan taught some serious fiscal

responsibilities to the overseas diaspora: the power of No.

And he connected that to the problem of a

shameless dependency among Guyanese at home, and its place as a part of a

national problem. He pointed out the little kitchen garden in the countryside

is fast becoming a relic of the past. People are so demoralized and despondent

that they are losing a sense of history.

That kind of talk provided Khemraj Ramjattan

a political windfall. And by continuing to bash the PPP civic on the issue of

crime and corruption, one got a glimpse of a man who is hell bent on dissing

his former colleagues.

Far fetched? Not really, when you consider

the kind of financial commitment people are willing to make in seeking an

alternative to the PPP/Civic and the PNC/R. And it is here where the AFC has

developed a sleek marketing strategy in mobilizing Guyanese for a genuine


From Charity to Lethem to Crabwood Creek to

Linden, the theme is for change. Ramjattan pointed out that the ultimate goal

is to dismantle the monopoly that the PPP and the PNC/R have on their

respective race.

And he was selling dreams: that Guyanese can

remain optimistic; that it is possible the country has not receded entirely

into the mists of history. That all Guyanese – East Indians and blacks

– together can find common ground in a common struggle for a common


Now that’s marksmanship. People

actually believed in it. Cha-Jing! The money poured in; folks were registering

to be new recruits in this new pursuit. And so the movement of the AFC has

proven that it has a few smart bombs in its arsenal of political weaponry.

So while the PPP and the PNC/R continue to

wrestle with the messy business of the voters’ lists, the AFC has been

tactfully insinuating its presence in their strongholds, quietly tearing away

at their support and building up mass power for what can be a season of change.

Say what you will about the outcomes, but the

enthusiasm at the meeting was quite glorious: defiant, courageous, romantic

against all that is fixed and immovable and oppressive in Guyana.

That makes perfect sense. With a faltering

economy fueling social and political turmoil; and with the PPP and the PNC/R

putting their own political survival ahead of the country’s economic

survival, and – with no sign that the trend is moderating – the AFC is

playing a powerful hand in the game.

But history will have the bottom line. Either

the AFC’s program is one crazy idea or the greatest idea we’ve have

heard in recent times.

2006-6-24: AFC Essequibo rep.

proposes value-added agri policy (Stabroek news)


Alliance For Change (AFC) representative in

Essequibo, Talesh Jaffar has said that a new policy in agriculture is needed to

have added value to farm produce. In Essequibo, he said, a population of some

58,000 cannot survive on the rice industry and therefore employment, a high

cost of living and migration are plaguing the region. According to the AFC

politician, the one-sided development of the national economy has led to

disruption in the social and economic life of the people. Charity, he said,

should be a port of exit so that rice and other farm produce can be exported

while as a port of entry, imports such as cement, fuel, fertilizers and other

commodities from the Caribbean could come in.

Jaffar said his party will definitely develop a new and meaningful policy for

the nation, while farmers and other producers would have more to earn.

2006-6-25: The Inflexibility

of the PPP: Its re-assertion of Communism in these times By Khemraj Ramjattan

(Kaieteur News)

“Communism has collapsed; it has not

been smothered. This collapse has dented the dream of our world for a better

life. But we will dream on; because liberal and neo-liberal paths to

development cannot provide solutions.” Almost to a letter, the words just

quoted have constantly found themselves in every major document of the PPP

since communism’s collapse in the 1980’s. Most recently they were restated and

emphasised in the Party Programme’s newest edition – 2005 to 2008. Could

you imagine!

Prior to its collapse in the 1980’s, the

Party’s message on communism was most emphatically encapsulated in the words of

one of its early stalwarts, Brindley Benn: “You can stop tomorrow, but

you cannot stop communism!” Brindley Benn, after experiencing the harsh

treatment which flowed upon any dissension with the Jagans, later was to deem

both Jagans, Cheddie and Janet, the “running dogs of Soviet Imperialism”.

As a youth leader in the 80’s and early 90’s

within the Party’s ranks, I too became troubled when millions of Eastern

Europeans were venting their spleen on their leaders, burning and pulling down posters

and statues of Lenin and the lot. That kind of future flashing across over

television screens we were never prepared for. Our propaganda czars at Freedom

House simply could not reply to and rebut the questions which came in torrents

from the more questioning amongst us. One ideologue, who up to then was highly

regarded, would simply pluck out one by one the hairs on his eyebrow. This was

most inadequate a response. His other response, which was even worse, was:

“Don’t believe everything you see on television, that is the work of

imperialists! And you comrades, especially you Cde. Prak, stop reading all that

revisionist/liberal trash.” I heard him; but I never listened to him.

This actual experience of seeing the grand

communist edifice crumble, which edifice PPP’s propaganda used to tell us is

indestructible, is what I think more than anything else made me the

“deliberative democrat” that I became.

I thus began treading cautiously, questioning

things more, deliberating on them rather than accepting wholesale – even

if they came from Ma and Pa.

And guess what happened? This questioning,

enquiring approach soon was not going down well with the czars and czarinas

within the PPP. I had always distrusted the principle of democratic centralism,

which was the organisational principle being thrown at me to counter my

approach and style. And so a fierce battle commenced. This fight got fiercer

when, at the Enterprise Congress of the PYO in 1995, the words Marxism

Lennism/Socialism/Communism were deleted from the PYO’s constitution. This was

a major victory for the “deliberative democrats” who were growing

within the ranks of the youth section of the PPP.

Of course, I was badly battered in 2002 at

the Port Mourant Congress of the PPP. The attempts I led through the Section K

Campbellville Group to delete these identical hard-core concepts, on very good

geo-political grounds, all failed. But so much for my experiences.

What I have come to realise of greater

gravity is the insincere double-speak of the Executive Committee of the PPP.

These Comrades would preach the gospel of communism in the Party and the

Congress and decry liberalism and neo-liberalism, yet apply at the level of its

Government every aspect of liberalism and neo-liberalism. What hypocrisy! This

is probably the most obscene aspect of PPP’s politics. It preaches one thing,

and practises another. And it goes about its business as if nothing is abnormal

or disturbing about this gross inconsistency. The farce and façade of

this two-facedness, a sort of Jekyll and Hyde scenario, is used to beguile its

members and supporters on the one hand, and the donor community on the other.

At the group meetings and Regional Conferences, the Communist preachers tell

the congregation: “It is no fault of ours that you remain poor. The fault

lies in the blood-sucking local capitalist class, and the international cartels

in association with the IMF/World Bank. They pauperise you. Not us! We are

trying our best for you.” At the high-powered meetings with the donor community

and financiers of various programmes, the language is spoken of how truly free

market and liberal oriented the government is.

This big lie, this monstrous insincerity must

come to a halt. If this kind of double-speak can be perpetuated at this level,

by the leaders of the governing Party, why then could it not be perpetuated at

every other level?

It is exactly for this reason why these days,

when this PPP leadership says that it wants Parliament to be truly functional,

the ordinary people know, like Sir Michael Davies found out, that such an

assertion from such a leadership may not be functionally true.

It is obvious double-speak, too, when the

PPP, who used to decry the PNC’s shameless abuse, dominance and monopolisation

of the State media when the PNC was in power, does nothing to shed such abuse,

dominance and monopolisation now that the PPP is in power.

Whoever in their right mind will want to

conduct business with this PPP Government when it promises to honour its

financial obligations, and then most arrogantly breaches them, as is evidenced

in the most recent debacle of the bonds issue with Citizens Bank. This concrete

example of another double-speak, if not remedied satisfactorily, will destroy

all investor confidence in this country!

It is exactly for this same reason why nobody

will believe any utterances coming from some PPP leaders concerning a desire to

work along with progressive alliances, when in the same breath other PPP

leaders cuss down and denigrate every organisation and individual potentially

capable of constituting such a “progressive alliance”. But what do

you expect from a leadership which suffers from an infantile disorder?

This whole exercise of re-emphasing its

commitment to communism in the period of the Party’s life 2005 – 2008, is

a deception by the leaders of the PPP to shift the gaze of its grumbling cadres

and members away from these leaders’ corruption, mismanagement, and

incompetence. But there are limitations to this organised deception which

sooner than later will be exposed.

This past Sunday I read a column by a

Guyanese politician that was exactly what I have been waiting to see for a very

long time. It