Region Ten Chairman Sharma Solomon will be vying for the position of PNCR leader during its 18th Biennial Congress this weekend.
“We have had three nominations for the position of leader. Persons have accepted and they are David Granger, Aubrey Norton and Kwesi Solomon known as Sharma Solomon,” General Secretary of the PNCR Oscar Clarke said at a press briefing at Congress Place yesterday. Current PNCR leader Granger and Norton had previously confirmed that they would be vying for the post.
Solomon running could potentially blunt the impact of Norton campaign for leadership as they would both draw heavily on Linden votes. His participation could also help to dampen anger among some Lindeners about disciplinary proceedings against Vanessa Kissoon
Clarke also revealed that Basil Williams, Norton and Solomon are the nominees for chairman while the post of vice-chairman will be contested by Volda Lawrence, Dr. George Norton and Stanley Paul. Ronald Bulkan and Clement Corlette will be vying for the post of treasurer.
Clarke said that there were 98 nominees to contest the 15 positions on the Central Executive Committee (CEC) but seven have declined their nominations so there will be 91 persons on the list from which delegates will choose the 15.
Fair and aboveboard
In terms of measures taken to ensure that the elections are fair and aboveboard, Clarke said that was a question for the Returning Officer. Once the official is satisfied with the arrangements that are made for voting, the voting will take place, he said. Michael Somersall is the Returning Officer. “Whatever arrangements he puts in place, I am sure that those would be adequate arrangements for the voting,” Clarke said.
As it relates to concerns raised by the Linden PNCR committee that the number of delegates assigned to the Region is 60, a reduction from 90 delegates, Clarke said that he had not seen a report relating to that concern and Linden representatives have not raised the issue with him. “What they have raised with me is the question of the delegates’ representation but not the number of persons who would be attending as delegates,” he said.
According to Clarke, they agreed that the numbers cannot be changed. He explained that the number of delegates depends on the number of members of the party and according to the Constitution, there is one delegate for every ten members who qualify to be delegates. He said that the representatives were concerned that some of the persons who they would like to be delegates have not been chosen to be delegates. Clarke said that he told them that he does not choose the delegates and it was the groups who did.
The PNCR official further said that as far as he knows, there is not a reduction of the number of representatives coming from Linden. Quizzed about a concern that there are “phantom” groups, Clarke responded that “I don’t know of any phantom groups.”
As it relates to the proceedings of the Disciplinary Committee examining an altercation between Clarke and PNCR parliamentarian Vanessa Kissoon, the official said that he is not privy to information about the committee and cannot discuss it. “I can’t discuss (the) disciplinary committee at all because I am an involved party,” he said while adding that he has not been summoned as yet but hopes to be summoned.
The fallout from that matter has seen Linden PNCR members threatening to take their concerns over the suspension of Kissoon to the floor of the delegates’ conference this weekend, signalling a further deepening of divisions. The Linden PNCR committee has said that Kissoon had been improperly suspended by Granger and as such she was advised not to appear yesterday before the disciplinary committee.
Disciplinary Committee member Malika Ramsay, who, along with another member Cheryl Sampson were present at the briefing, when questioned, said that only the committee’s chairman is authorized to speak on the matter. Asked whether an appeal is possible, Clarke said that the party’s Constitution provides for the appeal of a decision.
In terms of a conflict of interest given that Ramsay, Sampson and another committee member fall under Clarke’s supervision at Congress Place, and as well, are CEC members who endorsed Granger’s decision to suspend Kissoon, Clarke said that the party’s Constitution provides for the CEC to set up a Disciplinary Committee. “The members of the committee are persons who are expected to be carrying out the work, they are people of integrity…you can’t decide that a person is not going to be somebody who is good,” he said.
He added that he did not participate in the process establishing the disciplinary committee.
Parliamentarian Amna Ally declined to say what is the party’s view of the AFC’s proposed no-confidence vote against the government.
Meantime, reading from a prepared statement, Sampson said that 18th Biennial Congress will be held under the theme, ‘PNCR For National Unity, Good Governance and Development.’ More than 1000 delegates and observers from the ten administrative Regions of Guyana, as well as the North American and UK Regions, will be participating, she said.
The Congress will begin with the formal opening ceremony on Friday during which Granger will give the feature address in which it is expected that he will make an analysis of the political and economic situation in Guyana and outline his vision of the way in which the party will prepare itself to tackle the numerous challenges of the coming years, Sampson said. “We anticipate that this will be a wide ranging address which will lay the basis for the policies of the PNCR as it, along with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), prepares itself for elections, both local and national,” she added.
On Saturday, Clarke will report to the Congress on the state of the party, its organs and its political work. “Again, we anticipate that this address will adumbrate necessary reforms and reorganisation of the party structure as it gets ready to take its political struggle to new levels,” Sampson said.
Following the General Secretary’s report, the Report of the Constitutional Review Committee will be presented by that Committee’s Chairman Lance Carberry. This will be followed by the Plenary Session of Congress during which participants will examine issues contained in the party leader’s address, the chairman’s opening statement, the General Secretary’s Report and the Report of the Constitutional Review Committee. “This is an important aspect of the Congress programme since it will allow delegates and observers to respond directly to the visions of their party leadership; and from this open discussion, the party will forge a consensus on the way ahead for the People’s National Congress Reform. It is expected that such issues as the tactics and strategies, the ideology and philosophy of the Party and its future social and economic policies will be agreed,” Sampson said.
She added that questions and motions submitted by the party organs for the attention of Congress would be examined before the close of the second day.
The election of office bearers will take place on Sunday. “As is usual in democratically contested elections, there is keen discussion and lobbying by the various contestants,” Sampson said.
During the second and third days of Congress, only accredited delegates and observers will be allowed into the compound and the venue of the Congress, she said, adding that the documents needed for presentation as identification at the registration desk include a current party membership card with photo, or a current National ID Card or a valid passport or driver’s licence.