AFC favours pursuing all ‘le­gal and le­git­i­mate’ op­tions on no-con­fi­dence vote - Ram­jat­tan

Stabroek News Sunday - - NEWS -

AFC Chair­man Khem­raj Ram­jat­tan on Fri­day said that the party agrees that all op­tions must be pur­sued to sort out the rag­ing con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the De­cem­ber 21 pas­sage of the no-con­fi­dence mo­tion against the APNU+AFC gov­ern­ment but stopped short of say­ing whether the party sup­ports the ar­gu­ment that 34 votes and not 33 was re­quired for the mo­tion to be car­ried.

“The party didn’t ar­gue that specif­i­cally. The party says ev­ery­thing that is le­gal and le­git­i­mate, we must pur­sue and the lawyers will have a han­dle in that and that is what we are do­ing,” Ram­jat­tan told the Sun­day Stabroek when asked if the party sup­ports the ar­gu­ment, first raised by for­mer AFC Chair­man Nigel Hughes.

Ram­jat­tan said that the party’s ex­ec­u­tive met “im­me­di­ately af­ter” the mo­tion was passed on De­cem­ber 21 and it has de­cided that “we (AFC) must do ex­actly what the gov­ern­ment is do­ing, try to get all op­tions open.”

The Sun­day Stabroek also reached out to party leader Raphael Trot­man who dis­closed that the AFC’s management com­mit­tee has been con­fer­ring on the is­sue and this con­tin­ues. He said that he would pre­fer not to dis­close “our po­si­tions right now.”

AFC mem­ber Char­ran­das Per­saud de­fected from the gov­ern­ment benches to help the Op­po­si­tion PPP/C pass the his­toric no-con­fi­dence mo­tion 33-32 against the gov­ern­ment. Hours af­ter, he de­parted for Canada where he re­mains. He was sub­se­quently ex­pelled from the AFC and has been re­called as an APNU+AFC par­lia­men­tar­ian.

The Sun­day Stabroek has since learnt that ef­forts are be­ing made to iden­tify a re­place­ment be­fore next Thurs­day, when the Na­tional Assem­bly is sched­uled to re­con­vene.

Mean­while, Trot­man in a state­ment to party mem­bers on Thurs­day, said that the “at­tack” by Per­saud was well-planned and he urged them to re­main strong.

“The un­ex­pected events of De­cem­ber 21st have left us shocked and hurt. It is clear the man­ner in which the mon­strous plot was un­leashed was in­tended to cause max­i­mum dam­age to the Gov­ern­ment,” he said in the state­ment which was seen by this news­pa­per.

Trot­man said that for the party, it is a “dou­ble blow” be­cause the Gov­ern­ment is now threat­ened, and the at­tack came from within the ranks of the AFC. “This at­tack was well-planned, timed and ex­e­cuted. So let us not be­lieve that what hap­pened was con­ceived and ex­e­cuted in a few days or weeks. We dropped the ball by not treat­ing this se­ri­ously enough, and by fail­ing to recog­nise that one of our own could vote in favour of the Mo­tion,” he said.

As the Leader of the party, Trot­man said, he has to shoul­der the re­spon­si­bil­ity for some of these out­comes and for mov­ing things for­ward. He added that in do­ing so, he does not ac­cept that he was re­spon­si­ble for what hap­pened be­cause of his re­sponse to state­ments made by PNCR ex­ec­u­tive and Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Health Volda Lawrence.

Per­saud had told re­porters that Trot­man’s treat­ment of Lawrence’s com­ments im­pacted his de­ci­sion.

“You take her state­ment… I am PNC, my friends are PNC, I will give wuk to PNC and then what did Trot­man do as leader? I wrote to him (Trot­man) and said we have to make a state­ment. What did Trot­man do as leader of the AFC? He de­fended Volda Lawrence and then she apol­o­gised and Trot­man looked as if he was just pissed on by Volda Lawrence and I am tak­ing this as a mem­ber of the AFC be­cause I have no say. What about AFC? For Volda it’s not about be­ing Afro or In­dian but about be­ing PNC,” Per­saud had said.

Trot­man has de­nied that Per­saud wrote him on this mat­ter.

Per­son­al­ity

Trot­man told the party mem­bers that it is in his per­son­al­ity to al­ways see the good in peo­ple and to ac­cept that good peo­ple can say, and do silly and hurt­ful things.

He said that dur­ing his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, he had de­fended Ram­jat­tan when he was a mem­ber of the PPP, and had called on the PNC to apol­o­gise for as­pects of its ad­min­is­tra­tion. More re­cently, Trot­man said, when he was Speaker, he re­leased PPP/C par­lia­men­tar­ian Cle­ment Ro­hee from the re­stric­tion of speak­ing in the Na­tional Assem­bly.

“All of these de­fences of peo­ple from other par­ties saw me vi­ciously at­tacked, and I re­mind my­self that I look for the good in peo­ple and not de­mo­nize them for mis­takes made when I know them dif­fer­ently,” he said.

Trot­man ac­knowl­edged that the no­con­fi­dence mo­tion has been a “wake-up call for us long be­fore it was even voted on. The vote has made the con­cerns of the peo­ple even more acute. The AFC and Gov­ern­ment have recog­nised this as a sig­nif­i­cant po­lit­i­cal in­di­ca­tor and it will not be busi­ness as usual. We have made a com­mit­ment to lis­ten, to ac­cept that we have erred, and seek to change; whilst pro­vid­ing lead­er­ship.”

Trot­man said that while the mo­tion was passed with 33 Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment sup­port­ing it, there is a strong and com­pelling ar­gu­ment that it re­quires 34 votes to see the res­ig­na­tion of the Gov­ern­ment.

“There is also a strong ar­gu­ment that in or­der to bring a suc­cess­ful “No Con­fi­dence Mo­tion” the lists propos­ing the mo­tion must first have an elec­toral ma­jor­ity of its own and not de­pend on any­one cross­ing the floor, as this prac­tice is not al­lowed in our par­lia­men­tary rules,” he said, adding that it is for the Speaker or the High Court, ul­ti­mately, to de­cide.

The AFC did not have an elec­toral ma­jor­ity when it lodged a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in the PPP/C gov­ern­ment in 2014.

“It would be ir­re­spon­si­ble of the AFC to ig­nore or deny these views when the “con­se­quences” of the vote, as the Speaker de­scribed them, are be­ing con­sid­ered,” Trot­man said, be­fore in­form­ing that the next few days and weeks are go­ing to be test­ing for the cit­i­zens, and mem­bers of the AFC.

“I have taken full re­spon­si­bil­ity to lead our ef­forts to re­group and re­build. Let us join hands. We have to re­main strong. Se­cur­ing our­selves from any fur­ther slip­page,” he said, not­ing that the party has ma­tured and grown stronger each year since its for­ma­tion in 2005 and had sur­vived sev­eral “desta­bil­is­ing” episodes.

“I have no doubt that we will get past this one, once we re­main com­mit­ted to each other, draw on our strengths, and work to ad­dress the valid con­cerns of our mem­bers and sup­port­ers,” he em­pha­sised.

Khem­raj Ram­jat­tan

Raphael Trot­man

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