PNCR needs healing – Basil Williams

PNCR Chairman Basil Williams says the party needs “healing” following the events that marred its 18th Biennial Congress on Sunday and he is suggesting that a committee might have to be set up to oversee the process.

Basil Williams
Basil Williams

Williams, who was returned as Chairman after going unchallenged during the latest Congress, was at the time speaking on the way forward for the party, which has been accused by its groups in Linden of high-handedness, disenfranchisement and intimidation in the run up to and during the Congress.

He explained that the PNCR’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) is yet to meet to discuss anything officially but he added that he hopes such a meeting will be held before the week is through.

Other returning CEC members include David Granger, who remains the party leader after lone challenger Aubrey Norton opted to pull out of the race over concerns about the accreditation process; George Norton and Volda Lawrence, who were returned as vice-chairpersons, having also too gone unchallenged; and Ronald Bulkan was returned as party Treasurer after beating out his only challenger, Clement Corlette.

The names of the other CEC members were not available when Stabroek News contacted the party yesterday. A party representative said the Returning Officer Michael Somersall is still working, while at least two other groups, including the Guyana Youth and Stu-dents Movement (GYSM) and the Guyana’s Women’s Congress (GWC) will have their congresses in the coming weeks, after which their representatives to the CEC will be known.

In the meantime, Williams noted comments by Sharma Solomon, one of the leaders from Linden, about the need for healing and he voiced similar sentiments.

During a press conference on Monday, Solomon, who has strongly criticised the management committee which oversaw accreditation for the Congress, and the way the party has dealt with a dispute which involves fellow Lindener Vanessa Kissoon and PNCR General Secretary Oscar Clarke, noted the need for reconciliation.

“The developments that occurred at the party’s Congress are now part of the past which we must now put into perspective, review and work diligently to prevent in the future,” he said.

“…We are faced with the task of moving forward, mending our rifts, of correcting our weaknesses and building on our strengths to face the national challenges that go over and beyond the challenges we face internally,” he added.

The days leading into last weekend’s congress were marked by strife.

First, a group from Linden led by Region 10 Councillor Leslie Gonsalves told reporters that Kissoon was being dealt with unjustly. Kissoon was thus advised not to appear before a disciplinary committee put together to hear the facts of her altercation with Clarke and make recommendations.

Solomon also raised concerns over the accreditation process, arguing that those responsible for accreditation were refusing to accredit several persons from the region.

On the morning of the elections, Solomon and Clarke continued to resolve accreditation for Linden-based delegates. As the voting process was underway, Norton emerged from Congress Place along with Kissoon and Solomon and told reporters that he had pulled out of the race because the accreditation process, and therefore the voting process, was flawed. Solomon, who was also nominated to challenge Granger for the party’s leadership, told reporters on Monday that he withdrew from the race since last Thursday owing to similar concerns. He also said that he believed there were intentional efforts to disenfranchise delegates from Linden.

Statements made by Solomon and Norton on Sunday seemed to hint that a deep rift has developed between the PNCR and some of its Linden groups. Solomon’s comments on Monday therefore surprised many, even his supporters.

Williams nevertheless said there is a need to accommodate all who have been affected over the last few days and he suggested that a committee may have to be set up to oversee the process.

Granger also told reporters on Sunday that he and other executive members remain open to dialogue with any and all who feel aggrieved. Solomon has expressed an interest engaging in such dialogue with the party’s heads.

Stabroek News was also informed that efforts may be underway to repair the party’s seemingly damaged relationship with Norton.

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