The AFC burst on the political scene in 2005. Raphael Trotman and Khemraj Ramjattan, its main leaders, along with Sheila Holder, were leading members of the PNCR and PPP respectively. Supporters saw them as a welcome addition to the political scene that will break the duopoly of the two dominant political parties and reduce the drive for ethno-political dominance. Desite Guyana’s ethnic voting patterns, the AFC did exceptionally well at the 2006 elections, obtaining 8 percent of the votes. It took 5 seats from the PNCR, reducing the latter’s vote from 41 to 34 percent. It did not appear as if it affected the PPP/C’s votes. The PPP/C marginally increased its support from 53 to 54 percent.

In 2011 the AFC obtained 10 percent, on this occasion, partly at the expense of the PPP/C, whose vote decreased to 48 percent. The PNCR, then contesting under the umbrella of APNU, returned to its average pre-2006 support of 40 percent. In 2015 APNU+AFC contested under a united list and maintained its united support of 40 percent plus 10 percent, obtaining 50.29 percent, enough to form the government. The PPP/C lost the elections, gaining only 49.20 percent.

In 2020 the APNU+AFC lost the elections gaining a total of only 47 percent. The PPP/C won with 50.69 percent. If the voting patterns of the past continued in 2020, the APNU’s share of the 50 percent  would have been approximately 40 percent of the vote. AFC’s share would have been 7 percent. Speculation suggests that the APNU, being in office and with more resources, could have secured just over 40 percent, say, 41 or 42 percent. If this had occurred, the AFC would have got 5 or 6 percent. To summarise the AFC’s performance: 2006 – 8 percent; 2011 – 10 percent; 2015 – 10 percent; 2020 – 5-7 percent. The AFC now seeks to restore its support and status. To do so, it has to at least recover its 10 percent without diminishing the support of its former ally – the PNCR. In other words, it has to take votes from the PPP. Its trump card is a new leader – Nigel Hughes, “reverential darling of the cosmopolitan elite,” whatever that means, according to a letter by Erin Northe in SN of 3 July.

After 23 years in office and 5 years in opposition the PPP returned to office with much international sympathy because APNU+AFC tried to rig the elections. Just before, significant quantities of oil began to flow, and this has increased, enabling the national budget to treble. The PPP is now identified with development (some would say with corruption also) while the last major act associated with the AFC is rigged elections.  Whether or not the leadership of Nigel Hughes, a prominent lawyer who also represents Exxon, will make a difference to the AFC’s fortunes, only time will tell. The PPP is taking no chances. Already, Vice President Jagdeo has fired a shot across the bow and accused Mr. Hughes of conflict of interest. It is alleged that whilst an official of the AFC and representing Exxon, Raphael Trotman, the Minister of Natural Resources and leader of the AFC, was negotiating on behalf of the government with Exxon. Mr. Hughes has shrugged off the accusation. His mathematical calculation as to the majority of 65 has not yet been mentioned. But these are early days.

Mr. Hughes’s earliest condition of accepting the position of leader of the AFC was the possibility of him being the consensus presidential candidate of the opposition. Since then, the PNCR at its congress has decided that its leader, Aubrey Norton, will be its presidential candidate. Mr. Norton has since declared that any consensus candidate must come from within the PNCR because it is the largest party within APNU. Recent events suggest that its membership of APNU is in doubt, although it claims that it is.  

In 2006 Robert Corbin saw the writing on the wall when the PNCR lost 5 seats to the AFC. He recruited David Granger to be the presidential candidate and organized or began to organize the establishment of APNU. David Granger then negotiated the power sharing Cummingsburg Accord. Having won the elections, the AFC failed to use its positions in office to build its support and strengthen its organization. Then leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, knew of the dangers of a coalition with the PNCR. He predicted that the AFC would become ‘dead meat’ if it joined with the PNCR in any coalition. Knowing this, it required extra effort to promote and position the AFC for the future. Like all other parties, the AFC fell victim to the spoils of office and neglected the party. It also encountered some internal hostility from the PNCR as being interlopers, as alleged, having positions for which it did not work or contribute. Worst of all, the AFC fully supported APNU’s disgraceful efforts to rig the 2020 elections.

The AFC had an alternative in 2020. Even though the PPP/C unwisely decided against a coalition government, the AFC could have supported it and down the road some form of consensus could have emerged with the AFC retaining its support and having a dominant say in governance. The WPA made the same mistake in 1992.          

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