Linden PNCR members are threatening to take their concerns over the suspension of Vanessa Kissoon to the floor of the party’s delegates’ conference this weekend, signalling a further deepening of divisions.
Yesterday, the Linden PNCR committee held a press conference at the Critchlow Labour College and reiterated its position that Kissoon had been improperly suspended by PNCR Leader David Granger and as such she was advised not to appear today before a disciplinary committee which was set up to investigate an altercation she had with party General Secretary Oscar Clarke.
The continuing contretemps over Kissoon’s suspension from the party threatens to mar what should be an occasion for a full show of unity at this weekend’s Biennial Delegates Congress.
The disciplinary committee is supposed to commence its investigation today but without a representative from Region 10. The Linden PNCR members called for a disbanding of the committee. Representative of the PNCR’s Region 10 committee Leslie Gonsalves stated that it is usually the function of the Central Executive Committee of the party to appoint a disciplinary committee at Congress and that there has been no committee in place since Granger took over the leadership of the party two years ago.
Gonsalves said that “what is clear here is Mr Granger has …appointed an ad hoc committee, not one consistent with the Party rules.”
Among the five persons selected by Granger to be on the committee is Allan Monroe who is to act as the Chairman and who according to Gonsalves is also Granger’s neighbour. Gonsalves continued that Lance Carberry is the political advisor to the PNCR leader while Malika Ramsey, MP Chris Jones and Cheryl Sampson are employees of Congress Place. “All these persons are members of the Central Executive Committee and have voted supporting the leader’s decision to suspend Ms Kissoon,” Gonsalves noted.
He ventured that the act of supporting Granger’s decision “disqualifies all of the named persons to be impartial arbiters in this affair.”
The Region 10 members stated that Granger and his allies were mixing up their roles and were disregarding the party rules. As a result, they said, Kissoon would not be given a fair hearing and as things stood Kissoon has already been found guilty.
Gonsalves added that the region had been lobbying for two representatives on the disciplinary committee.
However when questioned by the media if that did not signal bias on the other side of the coin, Gonsalves replied that the region was concerned with the party adhering to the rules of conduct.
The names supplied by Region 10 for the committee were those of Gonsalves, the region’s vice chairman, Maurice Butters and head of the women’s arm, Lotoya Williams.
Williams expressed her support for Kissoon stating that the women’s arm was standing in solidarity with her. Williams argued that the party wanted support in denouncing the appointment of the government’s town clerk, Carol Sooba, however the PNCR was doing the same by “imposing” Coordinator Sandra Adams on the region.
Meanwhile, it was revealed during the press briefing that the Region 10 has a problem with the number of delegates assigned to it. Congress Place has advised that the region, a key stronghold of the PNCR/APNU, only has 60 delegates. However, Gonsalves stated that heading into the Party’s 18th Biennial Congress slated for the 25th – 27th July, Region 10 had at least 90 delegates.
Butters charged that the CEC of the party was trying to push out the Region 10 delegates and supporters to exercise more control and power over the party.
Simultaneously, while the press conference was being held, it was revealed that Region 10 Chairman, Sharma Solomon was meeting with Granger to discuss the various outstanding issues between Congress Place and the Linden PNCR.
In a statement issued at the press conference, the Linden PNCR Committee noted that following Kissoon’s suspension it had dispatched a letter to Granger on July 14, signalling its discomfort with the decision. The letter had called for the disbanding of the disciplinary committee set up by Granger and a meeting within 24 hours to discuss the way forward. The statement said that a response was received on July 15, from Granger but did not address any of the issues raised nor did it set a time to meet with them. Kissoon then received a letter from Monroe on July 16 advising of the charge against her and informing that the hearing would begin today.
“Linden’s position is clear – this issue is not about what transpired during the alleged altercation: it is about the violation of the Party Rules which we hold sacred, and if Mr Granger is too busy to meet with Lindeners to address the concerns we have been trying to get his attention for the past two years, then Lindeners will go to the Congress and plead their cases to their fellow members,” the statement declared.