AFC’s pro-democracy proposal poses negotiating challenges – Greenidge

AFC’s pro-democracy proposal poses negotiating challenges – Greenidge

December 10, 2014 | By | Filed  By Kiana Wilburg
APNU’s Carl Greenidge

APNU’s Carl Greenidge

The recent proposal by Alliance For Change (AFC) leader, Khemraj Ramjattan to have a pro-democracy alliance is  perceived by some politicians to be wise, but A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)’s financial point man, Carl Greenidge believes otherwise. He holds the view that Ramjattan’s initiative will pose some negotiating challenges.

Ramjattan made the announcement in an address to his party’s conference which was held at the St. Stanislaus College auditorium.

“Hard decisions would have to be made, and indeed the AFC is ready to enter, if necessary, into negotiations and to lead a pro-democracy alliance of progressive forces that is comprised of civic groups, workers’ unions, political forces…and by political forces here we are talking about even PPP members who have been disenchanted with the performance of the PPP thus far, and even APNU,” he had said to a loud round of applause.

Greenidge said that Ramjattan has, in the past, maintained that his party would not join A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), whose major constituent is the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) that had governed Guyana from 1964 to 1992.

The politician reminded that the AFC, which has been tapping into the traditional East Indian support-base of the governing PPPC, has in the past reasoned that it wanted to preserve its identity as an alternative to both major parties.

Ramjattan, he said, then sought to justify the shift towards engaging APNU by arguing that there was need for collective patriotic action and cooperation of all Guyanese in undertaking the “herculean task” of voting out the ruling party.

Greenidge noted that the AFC Leader had said that the time has come for a true government of national unity “one in which the politics of inclusion reigns over the politics of fear and division.”

He also took into account that Ramjattan said that the AFC wants to “lead” such a movement.
“We have the capacity to lead such a pro-democracy alliance, because we feel at this stage the reform nature of the Alliance For Change, its concepts on constitutional reform, governance issues and, of course, integrity in leaders that have emerged out of this party, it is necessary that we lead in that process,” Ramjattan had said.

Even with such an initiative, Greenidge said that the question of negotiation skills will again be an issue, if the proposal is to materialize and bear fruit. He sought to highlight that while Ramjattan is ready to “lead” a broad pro-democracy coalition, including APNU, to remove the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) from government, his coalition (APNU) had said the same thing during the course of its launch in 2011, and has been calling for a coalition with the AFC, a bait which he noted that the AFC leadership has not bitten.

“Indeed, in the recent past, the AFC, faced with the prospect of helping the APNU to bring down the PPP Government, declined or baulked at the opportunity. They probably did so in the mistaken belief that the PPP regime wanted to see a better Guyana and could be persuaded to accept outside input which could help in the process needed to restore the administration and the behaviour of its members to some acceptable standards and levels of decency, as regards corruption and abuse of executive power. They are now wiser. The story peddled in the corridors, of President Donald Ramotar wanting to effect change but being prevented by his predecessor’s henchmen is just that, a story. The PPP leadership of Ramotar is quite comfortable with its level of corruption and abuse of power.”
“Whatever the reason, the AFC has thrown down the gauntlet,” he said.

Greenidge said that the AFC has now adopted a position the majority of the electorate has been willing to embrace for at least six months now.  Further, the politician noted that the practice in negotiations is for the first offer to reflect a maximum position, the best possible outcome for the proposer. He said that the skills required of such an exercise should not however be under-estimated. Greenidge said that the Opposition leadership will be put to the test to demonstrate that it has the very negotiating skills which the PPP demonstrably lacks.

Greenidge sought to make the point that the current administration will pose difficulties for the process of meaningful negotiations as demonstrated before on constitutional matters to say the least. He emphasised that engraved in the PPP government’s psyche is a cuss-out-and-mislead culture, hence its actions reflect scathing and damning acts of corruption, as opposed to those which show that it is interested in achieving some element of common goals by way of meaningful negotiations.

He opined that the PPP’s view is that they are dealing with political inferiors or election-losers rather than porte-parole (spokespersons).

“That is why, prior to any negotiation, the PPP embarks on a barrage of insults and abuse. It is unbelievable that anyone could believe that prior to the start of Anti-Money Laundering negotiations in a Parliamentary setting where the PPP needs the support of the Opposition, the President can call the other side criminals and anti-nationalists, prior the Amaila negotiations, and threatened to not cooperate and even to prorogue the Assembly on the pretext that it is for the purposes of dialogue.

“The President has done every one of these things, each of which is guaranteed to derail negotiations. He has apparently been surprised at the negative consequences. This indecency continues and is reflected in secret and extensive land grants and concessions to Indian nationals (such as Indian Conglomerate Ajeenkya DY Patil) and Trinidian firms in the Canje Basin, an important wetland, without any reference to damage to the environment (EIA)  or consideration of the wishes of local communities,” Greenidge stated.

He also asserted that a competent negotiator seeks to establish confidence in his/her good intentions inside and outside of the negotiating room. In light of this, the PPP’s General Secretary Clement Rohee, he said, is very fond of calling for good faith whenever the question of negotiation arises.

In fact, the APNU financial point man said that the question of good faith arises because of the PPP’s failure to deliver on agreements. He said that the government’s justification has been simply that it exercises state power by virtue of being declared winners of national elections.

The former Finance Minister is of the belief that abuse is used to great effect by the PPP in domestic politics.  He said that from the case of the late Dr. Desrey Fox, former Minister in the Ministry of Education, to PNC turncoats, all were “mercilessly abused” in a process intended to weaken them publicly, along with actions aimed at undermining their economic status.

He said that they were then offered places at the PPP table in return for abusing their former allies. In the process, the political credibility of these persons Greenidge opined has actually been destroyed.

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