Members of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) were mostly reticent yesterday on the implications for the party’s image after a breach in security allowed for the discharging of a weapon during voting at its Biennial Delegates Congress held in Sophia yesterday.
Speaking to Stabroek News prior to the party issuing a statement on the incident last evening, several members of the party offered their views when contacted.
Former contender for the PNCR Leadership and APNU MP James Bond said “in my personal view there is no time that a weapon should be discharged at Congress”. He said that the dangers associated with the incident were great.
He added that “I don’t personally want to be around an area being shot at. In all honesty the party has taken some considerable hits this Congress.”
Bond was not the only member of the party who displayed his personal displeasure over the incident.
In addition to the gunshot, Region 10 members who wanted to be accredited as delegates created an uproar.
Party executive Ronald Bulkan stated that the behaviour was “unruly” and not becoming of a party’s track record. Speaking to Stabroek News after the press briefing which closed the Congress, he said that sections of the independent media wanted to paint a certain picture without proof.
This newspaper was privy to photographs showing a man holding a weapon moments after the shot was fired.
The party’s official stance was that “an explosive sound was heard which cased momentary confusion,” according to a statement last evening from Congress Place.
Former Police Commis-sioner and now APNU MP, Winston Felix told Stabroek News that “I did hear a sound that could have been a balloon”. This newspaper questioned multiple members of the party, who were once members of the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force on if the sound of a balloon popping was so akin to a gunshot.
Felix said that many members of the executive were not in the vicinity when the reported shot was fired and that he was not a witness to the actual events so he did not wish to further comment. This newspaper understands that the shot was fired into the ground by a bodyguard after Region Ten delegates were not accredited to vote.
A barricade was pushed down and in the chaos that ensued a shot was discharged. At one point during the post-congress press briefing yesterday, the media was told that the shot could have been fired to ensure people were not trampled.
Some PNCR members chose to not speak on the issue at all like APNU MP Christopher Jones, who said that he was not at the compound when the shot was fired and did not want to comment on the events. Stabroek News did press Jones on how such an occurrence would be perceived by potential voters.
When Stabroek News posed the same question to longstanding party member and APNU MP, Amna Ally, she responded, “This doesn’t do nothing to the image of the party.”
Prior to the press briefing, Ally had showcased a snippet of the growing divisions within the party by telling Stabroek News that “people like Mr Aubrey Norton (candidate for the leadership), who is out to bring down our party and we are not going to allow that,” were the issues that were resulting in bad public relations for the party.
She denied hearing the shot, at one point telling Stabroek News that she was not in the vicinity.
Yesterday’s occurrences will further entrench widely held views of shadowy internal elections in the PNCR, deep divisions in the party and conduct unbecoming of the main constituent of the major opposition in the National Assembly.