stabroek news letter

Dear Editor,

On or about the 7th of April, 2016 I sent a letter to both Stabroek News and Kaieteur News in which I contributed my take on the ‘Harmon controversy’. That letter was carried by Stabroek News on Saturday, April 9th under the caption `Minister Harmon is being made a scapegoat for the collective shortcomings of the new government’. It is important to note that to date the letter has not seen the light of day in Kaieteur News even though it was in response to issues that paper had raised.

In the letter referred to I had deliberately refrained from mentioning the role elements in the AFC and that party’s leadership played and continue to play, in creating the public hysteria surrounding Minister of State, Joseph Harmon. At that time I had information on the AFC’s planned retreat – its objectives and the issues on the agenda for discussion. I therefore knew well in advance of it happening that within a few days the nation would hear from the “horse’s mouth” what I had tactically decided not to reveal in my letter.

The AFC has since held its retreat and public statements were released to the media. Since then, Guyanese at home and aboard now understand that the AFC and its allies in and out of the media have made a concerted attempt to destroy Harmon politically and in the process achieve their political objective of securing more power for the AFC. Their principal objective is to change the power relations in the APNU+AFC government. Dr. David Hinds in an interview published in the Kaieteur News dealt extensively with the matter pointing out that the AFC want to reduce the powers of the Minister of State and in the process give more powers to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.

Freddie Kissoon in his column in KN on Friday April 15th 2016, captioned, `The AFC’s conduct may be bordering on dishonesty’, gives the public an insight into the politics of that party post May 11th 2015 General and Regional elections. In his column Kissoon highlighted what he believes is that party’s dissatisfaction with the implementation of the Cummingsburg Accord. Kissoon said that the Harmon scenario was the occasion the AFC is using to advance their claim for more power in the APNU+AFC coalition and government. While I understand his logic, I believe that he has fallen victim to the AFC’s cleverness by not realizing that the AFC did not just wait for the Harmon scenario to happen, they created it.

I am contending that the AFC and its allied forces, manipulated public opinion creating what is being called the Harmon “scenario”. My information is that their Jamaican political consultant, Mr. Alston Stewart who was the main spokesperson for the AFC during the Cummingsburg negotiation is back in town. It is doubtful that his presence at this time is an advance presence for the 50th anniversary celebrations. I sense that he is here at this time to spearhead renewed negotiations the AFC expects to take place. It is apparent that the AFC leadership has worked out a detailed and elaborate plan to achieve its goal. To all appearances that party is trying to take advantage of the 50th anniversary celebrations to press its claim for an increase in the power structure for itself. The intention is that President Granger must give in to their demands or be embarrassed by their actions.

Now that Minister Harmon has spoken, any fair-minded Guyanese will be forced to conclude that his actions, which his detractors deemed politically reckless and driven for personal gains, were in the interest of the nation.

Given the political capital that the AFC and its allies have invested in creating the Harmon “scenario” they are not likely to back off easily – some of their people are saying it is – now or never. Politically they have more to gain from being in government than out; this therefore means that their withdrawal from the coalition and government is not on the cards.

Indian rights activists and the PPP/C are quietly and publicly working hard to influence Indian political, cultural, religious, economic and social actors in the Indian community to put maximum pressure on the AFC leadership to break up the coalition and government on the erroneous claim that the government is anti-Indian.

We have to be careful that political opportunism and the grab for power don’t create unintentionally, a situation of increased racial antagonism in the society, which can be counterproductive to our collective aspirations and struggle, which on May 11th 2015 resulted in the PPP/C losing office.

Yours faithfully,
Tacuma Ogunseye