PNC/R must not sink to greater depths – Forde

– reprimands Chairman for intolerance against party stalwart

Opposition Member of Parliament Roysdale Forde, SC, who is challenging current People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R) leader Aubrey Norton for the leadership of that party, is lamenting the depths to which that party has sunk when it comes to intolerance for dissent.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Forde has been critical of PNC/R Chairman Shurwayne Holder, whom he has said needs to exercise greater tolerance when it comes to dissent. This is after Holder had criticized PNC/R stalwart Amna Ally and her contributions to the party after she had branded Norton as an unfit leader.

PNC/R Chairman Shurwayne Holder

“Differences in opinions and choices between and among leaders and rank and file members are the foundations for healthy discourse, development, growth and necessary change. These are the values on which great democracies are built,” Forde wrote. “It is of concern to me that what should be normal healthy discourse has degenerated to a level of which we must not sink. The party must not show intolerance to dissent, but must nurture appropriate and elevated disagreement and discussions.”
Forde pointed out that Ally has given more than five decades of unstinted service to all leaders of the party; from the very first one, Forbes Burnham, to the one preceding Norton, David Granger. Forde noted that Holder, by virtue of his high position, has a particular duty to temper his language and show respect.

APNU MP Roysdale Forde, SC

“For years I have admired Cde. Ally’s hard work, dedication and commitment, and that of other women who are the vanguard of this Party…my brotherly caution to (Holder) as Chairman of this great party is to exercise tolerance and greater temperance, particularly when differences arise between him and members of the Party family, particularly those who have given unstinted service and commitment to the Party.
“In such a high office, where much is given, much is expected. His is the duty to demonstrate and cultivate respect for those who would have served the Party from its years when it was seen as a towering force of political power to its current position as a government in waiting. Our Party comrades must be committed to respect each other,” Forde also said.
Forde noted that disagreements within the PNC/R are nothing new, and in fact contribute to the health of democracy within the party. But he referenced the ground rules laid by those who have previously led the party, such as Burnham, whom he said encouraged aggressive but healthy discussions that were nevertheless underlined by respect.

PNC/R stalwart Amna Ally

“Historically, these are the tenets of the PNCR that set us apart from all other political parties. We must be proud of, and never cease to value, transparency in all that we do, which helps the public to appreciate the standard set. We must work diligently to ensure our highly valued democratic expressions and exercises do not reduce us to rancour or divisions,” he wrote.
“We have been told that Mr. Burnham encouraged healthy, aggressive discussions, but abhorred intolerance, disrespect and senseless disruption. These are values party stalwarts were nurtured on, and which we of this generation must inculcate as a standard of political excellence,” the attorney-at-law added.
Ally, a former Minister of Social Cohesion and former PNC/R General Secretary, came under attack after allegedly referring to the present leader of the PNC, Aubrey Norton, as an “unfit leader”, who was responsible for divisions in the party. She has now thrown her support behind Forde, who recently publicly declared his intention to challenge Norton for party leadership at the next congress. In a social media post, Holder, a first-time PNCR Parliamentarian, blasted Ally and questioned her record in the party.
“Where was this former Minister and General Secretary for the last four years? How has she contributed to the development of the party and the fight against the PPP? She didn’t even have the decency to facilitate a handover process to the new General Secretary when the faction she created lost at the last congress. While I respect her right to endorse whomever she sees fit, I don’t believe Amna Ali has the moral authority to say who is unfit to lead the Party…my gloves are off! I will say much more at the right time,” Holder had further written.
It has been announced that the PNCR congress would be held before August 31, 2024.
In March, Forde launched his campaign to run for the leadership of the PNCR – the leading party in the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)-majority Opposition – at the upcoming Biennial Delegates Congress, where the party elects its Leader, Chairman, Vice Chairman and 15 members to sit on its Central Executive Committee (CEC).