REVISING THE CUMMINGSBURG ACCORD


Both APNU and the AFC appear anxious to amend the Cummingsburg Accord allegedly on the ground that the reality of political office has clashed with the Accord’s constitutionality. A series of interviews over the past two weeks given by President Granger and Prime Minister Nagamootoo suggest that a review of the Accord is underway.

The Cummingburg Accord has two limbs. The first is the number of seats in parliament and ministries in government that each constituent party would be assigned. This apparently went off smoothly. The second limb provides for the more substantive core of the relationship between the parties, namely, the division of responsibility in the management of the government. The Prime Minister was expected to chair the Cabinet and be responsible for domestic affairs except national security while the President would be responsible for foreign affairs and national security.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has not been given the responsibilities of chairing the Cabinet or of exercising responsibility for domestic affairs. The contents of Minister Harmon’s regular engagements with the press suggest that domestic affairs reside with him and/or the President. In excusing the failure to observe the terms of the Accord, both President Granger and Prime Minister Nagamootoo indicate that there is no dispute arising from the failure to implement the Accord. They pointed to potential violation of the Constitution if the terms of the Accord are fully implemented.

There is and would be no violation of the Constitution if the terms of the Accord are implemented. Various articles of the Constitution allow the President to appoint others to execute his responsibilities. (See “The Cummingsburg Accord does not collide with the Constitution” by M. Maxwell in SN 24.06.15). The President can delegate the purely nominal function of chairing the Cabinet while he is present. The Prime Minister can take charge of domestic affairs in an advisory capacity to the President. The flimsy excuse of constitutional violation is an attempt at a power play by APNU. Supported by a surprisingly subservient AFC, it is not a good sign.

In any event, APNU and AFC are not free to amend the Accord. They are only two parties to the document. The electorate is the third party. It contains the basic terms of their post elections collaboration on the basis of which the electorate supported the coalition. The electorate understood that the AFC would have a distinct, decisive and visible management role in the affairs of governance through the Prime Minister. If the parties now wish to unilaterally tamper with this and consign the AFC, even with its unwise consent, to a vague and amorphous, consultative position, the parties should not be surprised if bitter fruits are harvested five years down the road from the same electorate, their third partner, that they have deceived. If that happens, this is where it would have all begun.

Having regard to the high turnout of voters, the percentage of votes obtained by the PPP/C, the votes received by the AFC in 2011 and the numbers at their meetings, there is no reason to suggest that the PNC obtained more than its usual forty one to forty two percent at the elections. The AFC therefore contributed eight to nine percent of the votes to the victory of the coalition. There could have been no coalition victory without the AFC. Five years from now there would be no coalition victory without the AFC, if the AFC loses its identity and individuality in the governance structure and operations, an individuality which it would never be able to retrieve as a political party with a distinct voice and appeal.

One of the major factors in the AFC sustaining its vote from 2011 was the maintenance of its independent character and campaign strategy, its promise of a fresh approach and youth empowerment. Had it been submerged under APNU, disaffected PPP and PNCR/APNU supporters would not have had the opportunity to identify with a political party other than APNU. Just as how the AFC attracted support by maintaining a clear and distinct presence and individuality in the election campaign, so it needs to maintain an independent political existence and defined authority within the coalition in order to sustain and even expand its support. The Cummingsburg Accord clearly intended to enable the AFC to do this. We do not know the reason that has caused the AFC to lose sight of these realities, or to appear so anxious to be willing to sacrifice the fundamental core of the Accord. This will prove to be its undoing and that of the coalition.

There is no doubt that President Granger is facing enormous pressures from within his own party. All the signs are there. But he has to lead from the front. He cannot succumb to the political culture of dominance spawned by a history of ethnic politics, which the coalition has promised to destroy by the very Accord that it now seeks to defang because it disallows the perpetuation of the culture. President Granger must inculcate in his supporters that APNU alone did not win the elections. They must understand that without the AFC there would have been no President Granger.

14 thoughts on “REVISING THE CUMMINGSBURG ACCORD

  1. It seems that APNU might not hold,because hard line PNC supporters were not given positions in Granger Govt.

  2. It’s only a matter of time before this coalition is seen as a single party
    Is there a distinct WPA within APNU.. No.
    So come new elections n the PPP REMAINS A SINGLE unit the coalition would be deemed to the opposition.
    No single party has been able win an election against the PPP. That is a free n fair election.
    People vote according to perception n should them not be able to see Moses especially in a leading role a lot of the cross over indo Guyanese votes would be lost. Moses said a win is a win but the margin is 1 seat which can easily be swayed by Region 6 Voters alone considering that the PPP WOULD ONLY HAVE TO GET 55 petcent of that seat vote to win.
    From the comments I heard a lot of people are already peeved at the coalition
    The real issue may not be what the opposition does but how strong the PPP comes out. Just remember the PPP has been the strongest when in Opposition.

    • The PPP does not have the charisma and attractiveness of cheddi Jagan, as it did while he was alive.

      With the death of cheddi Jagan, the PPP began to die, more so, after he (Jagan and his wife) implanted Jagdeo into the leadership of the party and the presidency, in front of more experienced and competent members, such as Ralph Ramkarran, Moses Nagamootoo, and others.

      Cheddi Jagan, his wife, and their cronies., implanted the bitter seeds of division and fragmentation, by implanting Jagdeo into the leadership of the party and Government.

      Clearly, with decline in voters support for the PPP in the last two national elections, with the PPP being reduced to a minority government, then, voted out of office in the recent election., PPP leaders are fully aware of their fragile positions.

      PPP administrations did not hold Local Government Elections for nearly 23 years because they (PPP leaders), feared the voters.

      With the PPP being removed by voters from office, state power, and the billions of dollars of state resources it used for PPP’s pet projects, political patronage, and cronyism., its ability to organize and mobilize have been significantly diminished. The coming months and years will show this.

      The conditions and game have changed in big way, and has left the PPP with a mediocre leadership without vision and attractiveness., this will also become more visible in coming months and years.

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  4. Ralphie hit the nail on the head with a thundering bang. The AFC was instrumental in helping the coalition defeat the PPP because, even though some Indians returned to the PPP, a significant enough percentage stuck with the AFC because of the Cummingsburg Accord. Even a significant percentage of Blacks turned out because of the Cummingsburg Accord.

    The Accord did call for Granger to be responsible for Foreign Affairs and National Security, while the day-to-day operations or administration of government would fall to Nsgamootoo. This is not happening and I, all the way in New York, have detected this and wrote expressing my deep concern that unless Granger and Nagamootoo hold a joint press conference and clear up the blurred optics associated with their changes to the Accord, they will lose the goodwill of both Blacks and Indians who rallied to their side on May 11.

    Nagamootoo has to feature more prominently in the announcement of government actions and not settle for talking about GINA, Chronicle and NCN. Right now, the appearance is one in which Granger is President, Harmon is Prime Minister and Nagamootoo is a token representation of the party that brought in a few thousand votes. This cannot be anothPNC-UF!

    • aw gimme a break, Mervin! You wish you could get away with a full PNC rule of Guyana! Your “deep concern” is not about Naga being sidelined per se, it’s with the consequences of that which could see the PNC out of office next election.

      • You can have all the breaks you want and add them to your collection of ignorance and absurdity. You cannot, in a billion years, speak for me on this issue, because I have backed the AFC since its inception in 2005. There is no writing of mine that ever showed I backed either the PNC or PPP, so get to stepping with your misinformed self.

  5. the members of the pnc still think they would of done it without the afc hence the power struggle,pnc ppl always dominate apnu,so now they think they have a right to dominate the coalition too. OLD FOOLS will NRVER change.

  6. the supporters of the AFC would now be convinced that the Accord was one that filled with deceit in luring them for continuous support in the 2015 elections. Moses and Ramjattan are two top lawyers along with those in the APNU with the likes of Nigel, Trotman, Basil etc, could not have foresee these clashes. its a shame.

  7. Mr. Ramkarran has demonstrated many times in the past several months that he is a competent, experienced leader and elder statesman. He has shed light and wisdom on critical issues during the campaign which guided many voters.

    His comments on this matter of the accord are important and his views are widely read and believed as they should be.

    So I suggest the negative comments are to be expected from those who do not like his candor or cannot deal with the objectivity he brings. They will agree with him when he serves their purpose and attack him when he has a different view.

    I say again: Guyana needs Mr. Ramkarran to speak and I applaud him for his leadership and for standing up and being clear.

    The ordinary man can understand what you are saying Sir. They listen and take guidance. The look to you to be a voice of balance, objectivity and reason. Please continue and let those who cannot take the heat get out of the kitchen.

    The accord is being undermined and there is a lot of walking back. The AFC can pour perfume on this pig for a while, but the scent will come through in time. Hopefully the AFC does not allow itself to rot by that time.

    • The APNU+AFC administration will be judged by voters and the public by the results of their work, not by abstract academic exercises and debates.

      Despite the kink and bugs…as in everything new., this new administration is moving in the right direction, and ideologically/politically – have tremendous resonance with the overwhelming number of Guyanese.

      For the public., it is the performance and results of governance to lift their standard of living and quality of life which matters., not endless and abstract theoretical or academic debates.

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  9. The only solution to our future self government is a United Front Gov’t of the major parties. Any other arrangement is only a distraction from the real issue. That is, a historic racial divide that needs to resolved beyond a symbolic gesture.
    This current coalition needs to demonstrate that it is not a power grab exercise that they are involved in and to show real inclusiveness.

    Governing from a position of hatred and vindictiveness only works in the short term.

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