The main opposition PNCR has not been dissolved, collaged or merged, party Vice Chairman Basil Williams has said, while stating that all party leaders are on board for the upcoming elections.
Following last week’s announcement that the party would contest the upcoming polls under A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) banner—alongside the WPA, GAP, NFA and GPP—Williams and regional party campaign manager and Region 10 Chairman Mortimer Mingo met Linden residents at the New Silver-city Secondary School to update them on the related developments.
Williams assured party supporters that the PNCR has not done away with its name or structure but formed the partnership in the quest to contest the national and regional elections. In explaining the framework of the APNU, he said that the partnership was first suggested under the leadership of the late party leader Hugh Desmond Hoyte in 2002. It was later fleshed out by party leader Robert Corbin in 2004.
“The whole idea is to have a broad partnership to take away the power from this present government at the next elections, which will happen in the next couple of months,” Williams stressed.
However, there were still concerns when residents questioned the head table. Businessman George Marshall asked whether the PNCR feels it has a chance at winning the 2011 national and regional elections if it should run independently. He said the other parties in the partnership may not have what it takes to garner a significant amount of votes needed to win the elections. Marshall also challenged the leaders to have this year’s campaign focus on the economic development of the country and, more particularly, Region 10.
Gordon Calendar, also known as ‘Bad Heart,’ suggested that there is a rift between the PNCR leaders, given the absence of other members who had contested to be the party’s presidential candidate recently. “When you guys were campaigning you said that win lose or draw, you would be working as a team supporting whoever wins but that is not what we are seeing. Where are the others? We are not seeing them,” said Calendar.
He also admonished that the party focus on garnering the support of youths, who make up the majority of the population.
Williams disagreed with Calendar’s assessment of disunity among the party leadership, while noting that all the members are working persons, with Dr Faith Harding being on an international appointment. He pointed out that she was here for the recent introduction of the APNU, stressing that there is no existing rift among leaders and that they are indeed working to ensure the party reclaims its position in power.
Calender retorted, “You are not giving the right answer. This party has a tendency of beating around the bush.”
In response, Williams said: “Your question has been overtaken by events.” He added that regional leaders have been given the mandate to lead the campaigns at the local level, and should receive the respect and the full support of residents. “It is impossible for the senior leadership of the party to be at all these meetings and that is why we have leaders in very region,” he said. “I believe the time has come when our members must give respect to our regional leaders….We would want everyone to bury the hatchet and work towards one goal.”
Charles Sampson alluded to what he deemed “blackmail talk” by youths, who he said have been questioning the percentage of seats they will have following the elections.
Other issues raised at the meeting included funding. Lennox Arthur enquired about party financing and sought clarification about funds that would have been raised by party members in the Diaspora and how the party intends to justify the utilisation of these monies under the APNU umbrella. “Those structures have not yet been finalised but we intend to have all these addressed very soon,” Williams said.
Several persons also spoke of the need to have the issue of the media addressed, especially given that Linden only currently has access to the state-run media. They also queried if other parties would be allowed to join the partnership after the official July 8 launch, the announcement of the APNU prime ministerial candidate, and the position of other political parties on the partnership.
Williams said the party and the partnership will be moving apace to ensure all corners are covered to position themselves comfortably to win the elections.