PNCR leader Robert Corbin yesterday said there was “no deliberate attempt” to embarrass former Chairman Winston Murray, who stepped down saying the party’s public departure from a position he took on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) made it “impossible” to hold the post with credibility.
Asked at a news conference about the differences on the EPA, Corbin said that a clarification of the party’s position was necessary since members of the governing PPP/C sought to “misrepresent” Murray’s views to “say the PNCR was supporting the government on every aspect” of the issue.
In a statement issued last Saturday, Murray said his resignation was the direct result of a “principled objection” to a statement by the party that amounted to the “abandonment” of the position he had publicly represented during consultations hosted by President Bharrat Jagdeo on the proposed EPA between the European Union (EU) and Cariforum. At the time, Murray was performing the functions of leader in Corbin’s absence and he believed that he represented the PNCR’s position both in that capacity and as the spokesperson on the subject matter, as he is also the shadow Minister for Finance and Economic Development. He added that subject discussions between him and the party leadership did not change the general impression placed in the public mind and which caused him personal embarrassment.
“It was explained to me that the reason why those at the time who were there sought to give a detailed statement was because there was an attempt to misuse what Mr Murray said to suggest that every position of the government on the EPA was agreeable to the PNC,” Corbin explained, adding that the statement also sought to elaborate on the pros and cons of the agreement. .. I could find no deliberate attempt to embarrass him [but] there were some aspects of the statements which could be interpreted as a contradiction,” he added, noting that Murray’s own statement spoke for itself.
Asked about Murray’s support for a goods-only agreement that had been advanced by President Bharrat Jagdeo, Corbin was reluctant to comment: “I am not revisiting the EPA at this press conference. I feel sufficient has been said. That has passed. The govt has signed it and it is time to move on… We are way past the EPA at this stage and I don’t want to go back. I want to go forward.”
Murray’s resignation took effect on Thursday, January 15. He, however, remains a member of the party and a Member of Parliament (MP), with the shadow portfolio of Finance and Economic Development. After discussions with Corbin, he has also agreed to be a key member of a special task force that has been set up to redefine a strategic plan for the future of the party and reposition it in preparation for the next general election in 2011