…“suitable” candidate being examined – APNU/AFC Chief Whip
Amid mounting pressure from within the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon has resigned from the post thus making way for party leader Aubrey Norton to take up the role.
This was indicated to Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, in a letter on Wednesday.
Harmon will, nonetheless, remain a Member of Parliament of the APNU/AFC Opposition.
Norton, who secured a landslide victory at the party’s internal Congress in December 2021, had disclosed earlier this month that the PNCR Central Executive Committee (CEC) has decided that he should also hold the post as Leader of the Opposition.
But Harmon, who lost his bid for the PNCR leadership position to Norton, had been adamant that he should remain in the position, which was given to him by former PNCR Leader, David Granger. Harmon was also not re-elected to the party’s Central Executive Committee – the highest decision-making body of the party.
In fact, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) – the leading party in the coalition Opposition – has even thrown its support behind Harmon retaining the position, stating that “…we have had no reason to question the leadership of Joseph Harmon as Leader of the Opposition.”
However, following a series of meetings over the past two weeks, Harmon announced his resignation on Wednesday.
In a brief statement subsequently, the PNC expressed gratitude to Harmon and thanked him for his service.
The party also said it will address the issue of filling the position of Leader of the Opposition with its coalition partners in the shortest possible time.
Meanwhile, the APNU/AFC Members of Parliament in a separate statement also expressed disappointed with this new development.
“We take the opportunity to thank Mr. Harmon for his sterling contribution thus far. In the circumstances, the Members of Parliament will urgently consult with the leadership of their respective parties so that the way forward, and a suitable candidate to assume the important office of Leader of the Opposition can be identified,” the missive detailed.
The statement, which was sent by Opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones, also stated that the temporary absence of a Leader of the Opposition is no hindrance to the proceedings of the National Assembly ensuing hence the MPs will continue to function accordingly.
Moreover, at Wednesday’s sitting of the National Assembly, during which the Government-presented Budget 2022, House Speaker Manzoor Nadir announced that he will soon be meeting with the APNU/AFC on the election of a new Opposition Leader.
Deputy Speaker Lenox Shuman, who is the representative of the joinder list which comprises of A New United Guyana (ANUG), the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and The New Movement (TNM), has indicated that he would not be participating in that process to elect the new Leader of the Opposition.
Harmon’s resignation as Opposition Leader comes one day after he also stepped down as General Secretary of the APNU, while Granger resigned as the party’s Chairman. APNU’s Chairmanship is now taken up by Norton.
According to a statement from Congress Place, a meeting was held on Tuesday between Granger, Norton and Harmon. Also attending the meeting were Jaipaul Sharma, leader of Equal Rights and Justice Party, Vincent Henry of the Guyana Action Party, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley of the Guyana Nation Builders and Keith Scott of the National Front Alliance – the other parties that joined the PNC in forming APNU.
While Granger’s resignation was accepted with immediate effect, the APNU Executive requested Harmon to stay on for at least 7 days to ensure the smooth transition to a new General Secretary.
On the other hand, Norton is also interested in becoming Representative of the APNU/AFC List of Candidates, a position which is currently being held by Granger, while the Alliance For Change (AFC) Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, is the Deputy Head of the List.
Granger and Harmon had met with Ramjattan and other AFC leaders – Chairman Raphael Trotman; Vice Chair Catherine Hughes and General Secretary of the AFC, David Patterson – on Monday last.
It was at this meeting that it was first communicated that Granger would be willing to step down as APNU Chairman. However, there is still no word on Granger’s status as Representative of the List of Candidates for APNU.
Despite Norton being backed by the PNCR Executive for the position of Representative of the List, the APNU had also expressed confidence in Granger and Ramjattan as leaders of the APNU/AFC List.
Ramjattan had previously made it clear that the established procedures must be followed before the Leader of the Opposition or Representative of the List of the APNU/AFC coalition can be changed. (G8)