Facing disciplinary proceedings that could see her missing the PNCR’s 18th Biennial Congress next week, party member Vanessa Kissoon says that actions so far show that she has already been tried and found guilty but under party rules she expects to be accredited for the Congress.
“With Mr. David Granger suspending me and his decision being validated by some members of the CEC (Central Executive Committee) it means that I am already tried, found guilty and sentenced, without a hearing. Appearing before any Disciplinary Committee would therefore mean I would have to prove my innocence, which contravenes the common law principles that guide the Party Rules,” Kissoon said in a statement to Stabroek News.
On Tuesday, PNCR leader David Granger told Stabroek News that if the Disciplinary Committee investigating an altercation between Kissoon and the party’s General Secretary Oscar Clarke does not make a decision by the time the Congress begins on July 25, Kissoon will not qualify as a delegate. Granger could not say whether the committee would come to a decision regarding Kissoon’s suspension by that time.
Kissoon has objected to her suspension which was done without affording her a hearing and the incident has exposed rifts in the party and over 400 persons from Kissoon’s Region Ten district have signed a petition supporting her.
Yesterday, the Member of Parliament expressed alarm that the Disciplinary Committee approved by the party’s CEC comprises members who validated Granger’s decision to suspend her. She noted that she learnt from the media that the disciplinary committee comprises Allan Monroe (Chair), Christopher Jones, Cheryl Sampson, Lance Carberry, and Malika Ramsey.
“Some of the named persons are under the supervision of Mr. Oscar Clarke, the General Secretary, with whom the altercation took place. One finds it difficult to think that justice will prevail in this situation”, she asserted.
Granger had told Stabroek News that an invitation was extended to Region 10 to submit a nomination for the Disciplinary Committee but Kissoon said that based on her understanding, the Region 10 PNCR was never written to about nominating a member to the Disciplinary Commit-tee. “The Regional Chairman was written to by the Leader and asked to submit his nominee from the Region 10 Regional Democratic Council (RDC). The Region 10 RDC has no jurisdiction in the internal affairs of the PNCR,” she said.
In relation to her attendance at the Congress, Kissoon was non-committal but said that she expects the party to issue her accreditation card based on its rules. Her attendance, she said, will be guided by her feelings on the day, the party Constitution and Delegates Congress Rule 15 (2) (d) which states that “All members of the General Council, Party Nominees to the Parlia-ment and National Con-gress of Local Democratic Organs shall be entitled to attend the Biennial Congress and participate in its deliberations, but of these only Party Members have the right to vote merely by virtue of office.”
“I am a member of the PNCR, the party’s representative on the APNU Electoral List, and a Member of Parliament. My presence at, or absence from the Congress will be guided only by these factors and I expect my party will issue me my Accreditation Card,” she asserted.
Kissoon told Stabroek News that knowledge of what is happening regarding her suspension from the party is always first made known to her from the media.
The manner of her treatment in contrast with Clarke has raised eyebrows. The PNCR says that Kissoon’s suspension was done in accordance with the party’s Constitution but this was rejected by her and party members from Linden wrote Granger expressing solidarity with her.
The matter had its origins in the decision of the party leadership in April to appoint Sandra Adams as the coordinator for the region. Her appointment was apparently opposed by key members of the region. “The appointment of the coordinator was discussed and determined at several meetings and was approved and authorized by a meeting of the Central Executive Committee. Representatives of the Region attended all of these meetings.
The Chairman of the Regional Democratic Council was also invited to attend these meetings although he is not an elected Party officer of the Region. It was evident from the outset that certain persons resented the appointment and resisted attempts to allow the Coordinator to be given access to the Party’s office,” the party had said.
These differences culminated in the June 20th incident at Congress Place where Clarke demanded the keys to the party’s regional facilities from Kissoon and an altercation occurred. Kissoon was then suspended. Her supporters have stated that Granger had no authority to suspend Kissoon as the decision was made one day prior to a statutory meeting of the CEC which met on June 25 to address the matter.
A letter signed by over 400 persons stated that “the rules of the party are clear that discipline falls within the purview of stipulated Disciplinary Authorities of which the Leader is not one.”
Region 10 party members are arguing that the decision to suspend Kissoon was personal and part of the continued, “consistent and sustained assault on the region.”