Jun 22, 2017 Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom

The President does not feel that the Working People’s Alliance is being sidelined. But he has not made any compelling arguments to support his position.
The logic of the President is that all of the parties in the coalition are represented in the National Assembly and in the Cabinet. Therefore, according to this reasoning, since all of the parties are represented in Cabinet and the National Assembly there is no sidelining.
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This is most disingenuous argument which borders on the ridiculous. It is intended to obfuscate rather than clarify things.
For one, the WPA was neither consulted nor did it select anyone to represent the party in the National Assembly. If the WPA is to be believed, then Dr. Roopnaraine was handpicked and therefore cannot be said to represent the WPA. Did the Justice for All Party meet and decide who would be its representative in the National Assembly and in the Cabinet?
The very manner in which persons from the smaller political parties, including the WPA, were selected to be part of Cabinet and the National Assembly constitutes the sidelining of the parties.
The APNU+AFC is a coalition. It means that there has to be mechanism for decision-making. The APNU has to meet and propose policies for the coalition. The WPA says that the APNU has not been meeting. Does this failure to meet not constitute the sidelining of the smaller parties of the coalition?
If Dr. Roopnaraine was not the WPA nominee in the government, then how can it be said that he represents the WPA? He may be from the WPA but he does not represent the WPA unless he was selected by the WPA.
The President’s reasoning is faulty. He has to come better than this nonsense.
The problem which the coalition faces is that the PNCR has decided to dominate the government. This is the reason why the APNU has not met since the last elections. It has not met because the PNCR is comfortable within its domination of the APNU. It does not wish for the APNU to be meeting so that the smaller parties can make their input.
moses grangerIf the parties of the APNU have been meeting, the issue of sidelining would not have arisen because the WPA would have had no excuse to claim that it was being sidelined. It is the failure of the APNU governing council to meet that has resulted in the present situation.
Should the WPA have voiced its concerns in the public? Yes, it was obligated to do so. The WPA is part of a coalition. It has an obligation to its members to demonstrate that it is taking an independent line. It has a right, as do all parties to any coalition, to express its views in public.
The AFC did the same. The AFC made no bones about the fact that it was opposed to parking meters arrangement and it was opposed to taxes on education. The President did not harangue the AFC for publicly breaking ranks on this issue. But he wants to pick a bone with the WPA for stating its position on the coalition.
The WPA is part of a coalition but it is also an independent party which is free to take any position it wants, including being critical of the government. Accommodation has to be made for differences in any coalition, including public spats.
If the WPA did not feel sidelined, it would never have called for consultations with the government. If it did not raise its concerns in public, it would never have had its audience with the President because the WPA says it was calling for APNU to meet and APNU was not meeting.
The WPA must keep open the option of pulling out of the coalition even if it does not plan to do so, because unless it has this option it will continue to be sidelined.