DENYING suggestions that there is a rift in the coalition government, President David Granger has said what is being played out in the public domain is merely a “healthy debate.”
The AFC, second largest party in the six-party coalition that governs this country, said last Sunday it wants Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, stripped of some of his powers because of suggestions that he enjoys the status of a “super minister.”
The AFC arrived at its position after it was revealed that Minister Harmon had, without the knowledge of the President or the Prime Minister, appointed businessman Brian Tiwarie as his advisor on business. This appointment was rescinded once the President learnt of it.
President Granger has also expressed surprise at the AFC’s suggestion that Minister Harmon’s workload should be lightened. He said that when Cabinet responsibilities were discussed, no objection had been raised in regard to Minister Harmon’s workload.
During his weekly programme, The Public Interest, the President was asked about the perceived rift within the APNU+AFC, and he maintained that all six parties are as committed as ever to the success of the coalition.
“I don’t think what occurred is necessarily a sign of any form of antagonism. I don’t think it’s harmful to the coalition; it’s a healthy debate, so we will continue to have freedom of expression. I am leader of the People’s National Congress, and we have had discussions on a variety of issues,” the President noted.
He explained that previous encounters between the APNU and AFC have all been subsequently resolved.
“…within a coalition…parties have their own interest, and they’ve brought those interests into the coalition. I am not afraid of debate or discussion; and from time to time, parties make releases to the media or to the public. As President, I can’t control those releases, and they are free to do so. But in the long term, at a strategic level, I am convinced that all six parties are committed to the coalition and they want to see the coalition have a successful tenure in office,” President Granger explained.
May 16, 2016 would mark one year since the APNU+AFC government took up office.
President Granger fronts APNU, which is made up of the PNC (the largest party in the coalition), the WPA and four other parties.
The AFC agreed to a coalition with APNU, putting forward its Vice Chairman, Moses Nagamootoo, as the Prime Ministerial candidate for the May 16, 2015 elections, which ended the PPP’s 23-year grip on power.