By Jeff Trotman
Chairman of Region Ten, Sharma Solomon has been appointed campaign manager for APNU in that area for the upcoming May 11 general elections.
Solomon’s appointment comes in the wake of a motion put forward by Region Ten at the PNC Congress last year, calling for solutions to serious differences between Congress Place and the PNC membership in Region Ten. The major differences include, the appointment of former PNC member of Parliament Sandra Adams as the Party’s coordinator for the Region shortly after her return to the country from a protracted sojourn in the United States, the suspension of Vanessa Kissoon, MP, from the Party following differences with the Party’s General Secretary Oscar Clarke and the rejection of delegates from Region Ten from the Party’s biennial conference in 2014. Another concern of PNC members and supporters in Region Ten is an apparent indifference by the party hierarchy to its former General Secretary and member of parliament, Aubrey Norton.
In response to the motion, the central executive of the PNC appointed former party leader Robert Corbin to meet with the various PNC groups in Region Ten to find amicable solutions to the problems. Corbin has so far held three meetings – at Mackenzie and Wismar on 9th and 10th February, respectively and at Kwakwani on 16th February.
“All these meetings would have given him (Corbin) people’s views and concerns about the Party in the Region and suggestions that could help to fix their concerns,” Solomon told Stabroek News on Tuesday following his return from the Kwakwani meeting. Stating that Winston Felix is APNU’s campaign director for the upcoming general elections, Solomon said the campaign directorate on February 11th appointed “yours truly” as APNU’s campaign manager for Region Ten and “we are in the process of getting fully into campaign mood, right now”.
With regards to the controversy surrounding Adams as coordinator of the PNC in Region Ten, Solomon said as far as he is aware there has been a request for all such activities to cease while the campaign takes precedence. Highlighting what he termed an important aspect of the motion in which a call was made for the party groups in the Region to select their leaders and to operate in the spirit of good governance and in keeping with the party’s constitution, Solomon stressed: “The position has always been advanced by the people for those in authority, who have this … philosophy that might is right without understanding that the people understand the values.”
He said that he appreciates “how the people have sounded their voices and made their presence felt”. “The motion was advanced by the people and we’re seeing some movement on the motion based on meetings being held to do two things – to analyze on the ground the status of the Party and to get feedback on people’s concerns of things affecting the Party and the Region and Congress Place. The vibrations were enough, coming from people like Stan Smith and others that brought some sanity to the matter where some decisions that were pending were decided on”.
Solomon also said the meetings set the stage for the party’s groups to move in a direction to first, regularize themselves and then appoint a steering committee that would move the Region towards a conference that would allow the membership to identify the regional leaders. Adding that this is a work in progress, Solomon said: “The only timeline given was that the conference would be after the general elections.”
Solomon is optimistic that the campaign emanating from Congress Place would be flexible enough to accommodate the new alliance of APNU/AFC since, according to him, APNU by its very nature “has always been accommodative of representatives from outside of the PNC.” According to him the specifics in terms of strategy would be dealt with at the level of the campaign directorate.
He said the matter relating to MP Kissoon, which was also in the motion, is to be followed up by the groups in Region Ten enquiring from Congress Place on what progress if any has been made. When asked what role Norton is expected to play within the party, Solomon said that he is fully aware that Norton played a very important role in APNU’s campaign in the 2011 general elections. He stressed that Norton has been a key figure in Region Ten politics and he is certain that Norton will continue in this role.