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|At third AFC National Conference… RAMJATTAN CALLS FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE, PRINCIPLED DIALOGUE, RESPECT FOR PRESIDENT’S OFFICE|
|Sunday, 05 August 2012 21:15|
THE Alliance For Change (AFC) party held its Third National Conference on Saturday morning at the St Paul’s Retreat Centre at Vryheid’s Lust, East Coast Demerara.
Under the theme, “Delivering Hope and Change” representatives of the party from all 10 administrative regions gathered at the venue to listen to their leaders address them and to elect a new executive.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Party Leader Khemraj Ramjattan opined that his party had moved from being a small party to a force that has “emerged” into a political movement that has defined the political landscape of this country.
According to him, the AFC’s 2011 election campaign had been an extraordinary one, and as such, the AFC can be considered the conscience of Guyana.
He said that while there continues to be dialogue among the three parties at various levels on various issues, the fact remains that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) are not happy that the AFC exists, and would like it to dissolve.
Charting its own course
Ramjattan said that while there will be misunderstandings among the three parties on various issues, discussions must be held, because that is what the people of Guyana need.
He said that while the AFC does not agree with everything the President says or does, “we must respect the man’s office”.
He, however, said that while the AFC has no problem engaging in partnerships and discussions, those will not happen where basic principles are absent; because the AFC will not jump into discussions and partnerships just because of promises, but will continue to call for good governance.
He said that both Mr. LFS Burnham and Dr. Jagan -- through the PNC and the PPP respectively -- fought for democracy, and that has been achieved. However, while democracy has been given to the people, addressing the many calls for good governance remains a far cry.
He said the public continues to be disenfranchised by certain arms of the government, including the local government system, among others. “It’s totally rotten!” Ramjattan added.
Calling for ministers to take responsibility for things going wrong or right under their watch, Ramjattan lashed out at public officials who pride themselves on receiving kudos for successes in their various fields of command, but reject criticism for the flaws therein.
He also called for the government to embark on a purging exercise to weed out non-performers and under-performers from its ranks.
According to him, a greater premium needs to be put on performance in this country.
He said that contrary to what is being said in some sections of the society, the AFC has shown leadership on the Linden issues.
He pointed to calls by AFC Member of Parliament, Nigel Hughes for an international probe into the shooting deaths at Linden, and for ballistic testing to be carried out on the weapons on location on the night of the shooting as evidence of that leadership.
He said the AFC’s position on Linden was taken with the sole agenda of ensuring that the party demanded better economic conditions for the community, which the party considers a depressed one.
Ramjattan described the Guyanese society as deeply fragmented. He said that despite the minority rule position it attained following the last elections, Guyanese continue to be governed by a government that refuses to consult with the joint parliamentary opposition, which holds the majority in the National Assembly.
He accused the government of delaying what necessarily must “get done” -- to activate the procurement commission -- saying that the move to delay the process is aimed at covering up corruption.
End race politics
Ramjattan called for an arrest of the issue of race politics. He said there needs to be a true and genuine approach in condemning the race divide that exists in Guyana.
Meanwhile in her opening remarks, executive member of the party and Member of Parliament, Ms Cathy Hughes, in welcoming the delegates and observers, noted that although the party continues to be attacked by various groups and certain parties, the AFC continues to make an impact on the political landscape and, by extension, the Guyanese society as a whole.
Hughes said that since its inception in 2005, the party has a lot to be proud of; but it should not be satisfied at its present positioning on the political landscape.
She called for the party supporters and members to understand that the things that have happened within and around the party since its existence is enough for them to continue the struggle towards becoming the number one party in the country, as against being the third force that it is currently being regarded as.
The AFC executive said that from the inception, the AFC has made it clear that, despite the races, backgrounds, and other factors, the party will not be packaged; and despite present attempts by some persons to do just that, the party will not shift from that position.
She admonished the delegates that, despite the challenges, anger, disputes and other misunderstandings, the congress should be the place to iron out whatever differences exist, since it could be a matter of months or the next two or three years that the party may be forced to go back to the polls. Therefore, the party needs to ensure that it is in a ready position to go to the polls.
She called for compromise among the members in addressing certain issues within the party.
Ms. Hughes called on the party groups to put aside their minor differences and work towards the better and bigger cause, which ultimately is to ensure strengthened contributions in their respective groups feed the bigger group, which consists of the collectiveness of all groups that form the party.
In closing, she said that the party was proud that most Guyanese expect more from the AFC than it expects form the PPP/C and the PNCR/APNU.
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