Canada joins US, UK in congratulating new PNCR Leader

The Canadian Government was the latest to congratulate Aubrey Norton on his election as the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) – the leading party in the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) faction of the Opposition coalition.
In a statement on Wednesday, the High Commissioner of Canada, Mark K Berman, extended best wishes to the new PNCR Leader and the party’s new Central Executive Committee (CEC).

Canadian High Commissioner Mark Berman

“I look forward to engaging with Mr Norton in the near future and working together in the interest of Guyana,” High Commissioner Berman outlined in the brief missive.
Norton was elected as the new PNCR leader at the party’s 21st biennial Congress held last Saturday. He secured a landslide victory, having obtained more than half of the 1280 votes cast. He got 967 votes; while his opponents, Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon and Dr Richard Van West-Charles received 245 votes and 64 votes respectively.
Both Harmon and Van West-Charles have committed to working with the new party leader in the interest of the PNCR.

Newly-elected PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton

Since his election, congratulatory messages have been pouring in for Norton. In fact, the Canadian envoy is not the only diplomat to join in these greetings.
The United States Embassy in Georgetown, in a brief statement on Tuesday, stated, “The US Embassy congratulates Mr Aubrey Norton on his election victory as PNCR Leader and looks forward to working with him on issues for the benefit of all Guyanese.”
Meanwhile, the British High Commission in Guyana also said in a short statement that: “The British High Commissioner, Jane Miller congratulates Mr Aubrey Norton on becoming Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), following the 21st Biennial Delegates’ Congress elections on 18 December, 2021.”
The British High Commission further noted that it sent a letter to Norton, in which the High Commissioner expressed hope that the two sides could work together in the interest of the country.
“In a letter sent to Mr Norton, it was noted by the HC that “I look forward to meeting you in the new year and working together on issues affecting the people of Guyana”,” the missive detailed.
Meanwhile, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) has already issued a statement congratulating Norton and expressing hope that they could work together to further develop Guyana. The PSC – which played an integral role in defending the country’s democracy last year when the PNC-led coalition regime attempted to derail the election – also urged the new Leader to lead an Opposition that is “strong, responsible and vibrant”.
“The Commission looks forward to Mr Norton leading a strong, responsible and vibrant Opposition, upholding the Constitution and urging respect for the maintenance of law and order, as the leader of the major party in the APNU/AFC coalition,” the PSC stated in the missive.
During his inauguration address, Norton had criticised the PSC, alleging that it was politically biased. Responding to these allegations, the Commission contended that the remarks were unfair and inaccurate.
The Commission said it could only assume that those remarks were “…driven by the fact that the Commission, in the defence of democracy, vigorously opposed the attempt to rig the last election in favour of the APNU/AFC coalition”.
The diplomatic community also played a significant role in defending democracy in Guyana during those tumultuous five months after Guyanese went to the polls on March 2, 2020.
Moreover, the ABCE envoys were vocal in their calls for democracy to prevail in Guyana and for the will of the Guyanese people be respected after the APNU/AFC coalition refused to concede defeat.
In fact, even after a national recount confirmed the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) electoral victory, the David Granger-led coalition continued with its delay tactics by moving to the courts.
The Western diplomats had deemed the tabulation process for Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) – Guyana’s largest voting district – as lacking transparency and credibility. This was after attempts were made by embattled Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, along with others to inflate the votes in favour of the then coalition Administration.
As the electoral impasse continued months after the March polls, the ABCE diplomatic community continued mounting pressure on the APNU/AFC to concede defeat, warning of Guyana facing isolation and consequences.
In fact, the United States had gone ahead to impose visa sanctions against several government and electoral officials, and their immediate family members, for their role in undermining democracy in Guyana. The United Kingdom and Canada as well as the European Union had also indicated that they were also considering following suit.
However, this advocacy by ABCE envoys had resulted in attacks against them by the former Government and its supporters. (G8)