A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) presidential candidate David Granger does not foresee a group recently launched by a former member of the PNCR doing any damage to the party’s standing in the region.
As a matter of fact Granger is confident that inroads that were made by other political parties-namely the Alliance For Change and the PPP/C in the last elections are going to be reversed since according to him the PNCR – the main force in the APNU – has been working in all the areas in the region.
Denton Osborne, a former member of the PNCR, recently announced that he now heads the Guyanese Youth Congress party which has since informed GECOM of its intention to contest elections in Region 10. Osborne is hoping to sweep the region.
“We have been working in all the areas in the region, Ituni, Kwakwani… and I don’t see this new party having any impact on the amount of votes the party receives,” Granger, who was named the PNCR’s presidential candidate before the party formed a coalition with the APNU, told Stabroek News yesterday.
Granger was specifically asked whether he feels the new group may split the PNCR’s votes in the region since Osborne was once a member of the party but he said he is confident about the work the PNCR has been doing over the last few years. He admitted that the party did not do as well in 2006 as it traditionally did in the region and that both the AFC and the PPP/C had a good showing.
“We are confident that the people who voted for those parties would return because of the work we have been doing …We are confident that we have corrected some of the damage that was done,” Granger maintained.
He said that the PNCR had no discussions with Osborne before or after his announcement to contest the regional elections and pointed out that the former party member by his own admission had chosen not to renew his party membership since 2007.
The presidential candidate said the parties in the recently formed coalition firmly believe that the partnership is better suited to accomplishing the goals of bringing about the much needed changes in Guyana.
Granger said he could not say what would have been the motivation behind Osborne’s move to form his own party but said if he is committed to change in Guyana then he is welcome to be part of the APNU. He said that Osborne has a reputation of working with youths and “we would welcome him in the coalition.” Further, Granger said the coalition is committed to removing the PPP/C from power and if Osborne feels the same way too then he is welcome.
Osborne in an interview with Stabroek News last week brushed aside being a part of any coalition as he had indicated that the formation of the APNU was one of the reasons that he finally decided to call it quits with the PNCR.
“In all these coalitions, our voices are lost. We want to make sure that young people’s voices are heeded and that the issues which are of interest to us remain on the agenda”, Osborne had told Stabroek News.
Osborne said that he respected Granger but pointed out that he (Osborne) did not renew his membership with the PNCR since 2007. The Linden Youth Forum, which formerly supported the PNCR has pledged its membership to the GYC for the regional elections.
Meanwhile, Regional Chairman of Region 10 Mortimer Mingo yesterday told Stabroek News that he was puzzled as to the real motive behind the formation of the new party pointing out that some of its main members had been placed in positions in the Region by the PNCR to represent youths but they have underperformed.
He said he learnt of the party through the news item in this newspaper and that he was surprised noting that in the case of Osborne it was not a split from the party as he was not a member of the party for a number of years.
Mingo said Linden Youth Vision, which has now thrown its support behind the new party, was birthed out of the PNCR and has as one of its members the Regional Vice-Chairman, Samuel Hooper.
However, head of the new party Osborne told Stabroek News that the Linden Youth Vision is a non-governmental organization with no affiliation to the PNCR. He said that Hooper is indeed a member of the Linden Youth Vision but he is not a member of the new party.
“Mr Hooper is a good friend of mine and I hope he would become a member of the party but he is not a member as we speak…” Osborne said.
He further explained that what was born out of the PNCR was the Linden Youth Forum which is now not functional as it was denied membership of the party at its last congress.
According to Mingo, Dexton Copeland, who has publicly announced himself as a member of the new party, is a PNCR Regional Councillor pointing out that his name was extracted from the party’s list of candidates to serve on the council and this is the ninth year he has been doing so.
Mingo pointed out that of the ten seats on the regional council awarded to the PNCR four are being held by youths. The Chairman said this fact and others make him concerned at the claim by members of the party that youths are not properly recognized in the region. He charged that Copeland and Hooper have been placed in positions to assist youths yet they have never made any written representation for youth development.
He also said that Copeland was the head of the Regional Educational Committee and he was later removed for non-performance.
While saying he is surprised and puzzled, Mingo like Granger does not believe that the new party will take any votes from the PNCR as according to him “they are not visible in Linden and have not done any real work with youths in the region.”
On the other hand Osborne is very upbeat about his party’s chances as he told Stabroek News yesterday that since the party made the public announcement of its formation in this newspaper last week members have received very positive reactions.
“We have had a lot of congratulations and pledges of financial support,” Osborne said adding that the party has received calls from many in the Diaspora including the Caribbean, England, the US and Canada.
Osborne said that calls have also been received from youths in other regions who said they respected the move and indicated that it is something they would also wish to replicate to make an impact in their areas.
“So far the reaction has been very positive and we moving forward…But we are also prepared for any negative response,” he said.
Last week Osborne had said that Linden has seen no real development in about a decade or more and pointed out that the EU-funded LEAF programme was aimed at changing the economic landscape in the Region but that has now come to an end. Foreign investment is scarce in the community, he added.
“If we can inspire other youths across Guyana to take charge of their own destiny there would be tremendous changes in this country… it’s about seeking to building the kind of communities, regions and consequently, country that we would all like to see”, the party head had said.