Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) David Granger yesterday said he would investigate any allegations of impropriety during the party’s 18th Biennial Congress once evidence can be provided that any wrong-doing took place.
Further, though he would not say if he would be willing to call for a re-run of the controversy-marred elections which took place last week, he says “necessary actions” will be taken based on the results of such an investigation.
He says nevertheless, that the Returning Officer who presided over the party’s elections has since handed his report to this party, in which there is no indication that any impropriety was present in the party’s electoral process.
Asked whether he would be able to produce evidence to substantiate claims he has made, Aubrey Norton, who dropped out of the race to challenge Granger during the latest congress said yesterday he has issued a statement on the events of the 18th Congress and would no longer be engaging the press on the matter. The statement referred to by Norton was issued last Thursday during a press conference at which he claimed that the electoral process of the 18th Congress was manipulated to ensure Granger remained leader.
Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon, who was also nominated to challenge Granger, but who dropped out of the race for similar reasons, was not available to say if he would be able to do same.
Granger returned as the party’s leader on Sunday July 27th after competitor Norton pulled out amidst claims of a flawed electoral system. Similar sentiments were expressed by Solomon who, during a meeting on July 24th, told supporters in Linden that he would not be challenging Granger during the latest Congress owing to unresolved concerns with the electoral system which obtained.
Solomon and Norton both argue that there were efforts afoot to disenfranchise many Lindeners. Scores of Lindeners, the two say, were not confirmed as delegates despite qualifying for such.
On the other hand, PNCR General Secretary Oscar Clarke says Solomon submitted lists with Lindeners who did not qualify to be delegates. Clarke has said on numerous occasions that Solomon was informed of this issue and asked to make the necessary corrections.
Despite the back and forth on Linden’s list of delegates though, the two sides maintain their positions. Solomon and Norton are holding that the electoral process was tampered with to ensure Granger’s return, while ranking party members say there is no evidence to that effect, and that the intention of Norton and company was to cause a ruckus.
Both men have ultimately said that despite their negative experiences they are willing to mend wounds and move on as they continue to seek to address their concerns in the party and the party’s leadership has expressed its willingness to accommodate discussions on any and all matters.
Several observers and political analysts, including chartered accountant Christopher Ram, former Government Minister Henry Jeffrey, former House Speaker Ralph Ramkarran and economist Tarron Khemraj agree that the unrest of the 18th Congress has painted the party an unappealing colour in the eyes of a public.
Khemraj in particular, who supports A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), says “The PNCR now needs to work five times harder to move away from this debacle.” He said that he felt that the party’s account of who instigated the disruptions is important and it is very detailed, clearly itemizing that the list of voting delegates was credible. “However there is always going to be a substantial segment of the population who will doubt the PNCR’s response and the state media and private media of the PPP will milk the events significantly,” he said.
“Therefore, I believe something radical needs to be done right now like a possible run-off of votes. Mr Granger will have to show herculean leadership at the moment,” Khemraj asserted.
Ram also told this newspaper that Granger should have ordered an investigation into the party’s elections
He said that at a time when it was necessary and expected of Granger to address the excesses of the Government and the widely expressed shortcomings of the opposition led by him, the issues surrounding the elections became the dominant event.
“While there was no violence at the Congress and the leadership has dismissed allegations of vote rigging, the firing of a gunshot and the loud protestations of disenfranchisement were the worst kind of public relations disaster for the PNCR,” former Speaker of the National Assembly Ramkarran said in yesterday’s Sunday Stabroek column.
For his part, Jeffrey believes that the major issues that faced the PNCR – some of which arose at the congress itself – will have repercussions for years to come. Going into the congress, the major problem for the PNCR was the “disconnect” that has developed between the expectations of those who brought Granger to its leadership and the actual reality of his leadership, he said.
In his Future Notes column in Stabroek News he said “the PNCR congress has come and gone, but the major issues that faced the party, some of which arose at the congress itself, will have repercussions for years to come.