Flashback! President David Granger (then candidate Granger) presents a copy of the APNU+AFC manifesto to a citizen during the 2015 elections campaign. Also in photo is Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

…commit to shun attempts at covert alliances
…candidates must enjoy confidence of respective constituencies

AHEAD of its negotiations to revise the Cummingsburg Accord, the A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) have agreed to the core principles that will guide their union as this country gears up for general and regional elections.
Today, Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission Justice Claudette Singh is expected to advise President David Granger as to the timeframe when the electoral body would be ready to conduct the polls. As in 2015, the APNU and AFC have agreed to contest the elections as a coalition and the sides have been working feverishly to hammer out key revisions of the accord.

The Guyana Chronicle was told that the parties met on Wednesday, but details of that meeting have not been forthcoming. However, this newspaper was told a by a source close to the AFC that discussions have started and both sides have put forward their proposed changes for inclusion in the new accord. “We have agreed on the core principles and at least that is a starting point…both sides continue to meet,” the source told the Guyana Chronicle.

The Guyana Chronicle was told that the parties to the accord have committed to upholding the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and to ensuring that no agreement or action collides with or contradicts the articles of the Constitution. In the previous accord, which was used for the 2015 general and regional elections, the parties had agreed that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo would chair cabinet, but later this proved problematic as according to the Constitution, cabinet must be chaired by the President unless he is out of the jurisdiction or unable to perform the function. There have been suggestions that the President could delegate this responsibility even if he is in the country. “So this is one of the issues, but not only that there is a general commitment to abide to the constitution and so this was included.”
This newspaper also understands that as part of the core principles the parties agreed and committed to the establishment of a system of inclusionary democracy and the advancement of the country’s Green State development Strategy, Vision 2040. They also committed to seeking electoral majorities at the general and regional elections and local government elections and agreed to select candidates for the aforementioned elections through participatory and transparent processes which guarantee that candidates enjoy the majority of their respective constituencies and satisfy all legal criteria for election.

Allocation of seats
On the issue of allocation of seats in the National Assembly, Cabinet, Regional Democratic Councils, Municipal and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, the sides agreed that this would be done on the basis of a formula. The sides agreed too that the prerogative of the President to appoint members of cabinet and ministers and to assign specific ministerial portfolios is explicitly embodied in the Constitution and is inviolable.

Meanwhile, other aspects of the core principles include the cultivation of respectful relations and at all times the parties will act collectively in the best interest of the coalition. They also agreed to speak with one voice on issues of public policy, to support a common manifesto and to issue joint media bulletins and releases on electoral matters.
Additionally, the parties agreed to abide by the principle of collective responsibility in respect of decisions emanating from Cabinet and to holding common positions on bills, motions and resolutions in the National Assembly. Each party also pledged to inform the other in advance of its inability at any time to support any measure in the National Assembly.

Other areas covered in the core principles are that of the publishing of a joint manifesto comprising 12 broad fields: constitutional reform, good governance, economic growth and development, education improvement, energy sector, environmental protection, indigenous peoples, infrastructural development, international relations, social protection and social cohesion, security and human safety, women, gender equality and youth. The parties agreed to jointly finance their elections campaign and also to campaign vigorously either on their own or collectively in each contested constituency.