PNC’s Saturday Congress: PNCR candidates claim delayed elections will be “transparent”

…express confidence in CEO Vincent Alexander

A ‘well-oiled’ machinery is finally prepared for the hosting of the 21st Biennial Congress of the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNC/R), which will see the election of a new Leader and other executives on Saturday.

Candidates contesting for the PNC leadership (from left to right): Richard Van West-Charles, Aubrey Norton and Joseph Harmon

At a press conference on Thursday, the three candidates vying for leadership of the Party – Joseph Harmon, Aubrey Norton and Richard Van West-Charles – all expressed confidence in the systems that have been put in place to ensure a fair and transparent process.
Harmon indicated, “At the end of it, I believe our party will be stronger. I think all the candidates have committed – as I have committed – to, at the end of this process, whoever comes out to be the person that wins the elections, that I am prepared to work with them to ensure that our party remains strong.”
In addition, Norton told media operatives that they have placed their confidence in Chief Elections Officer Vincent Alexander and all those who are associated with the actual electoral process.
“We recognise the significance of these elections, not only for the party but for the more-than 200,000 people that voted for the coalition, and even those who didn’t vote,” Norton added.
The final candidate, Van West-Charles, explained that the most important part of the congress is the elections process, which has been questioned for its transparency and accountability.
“Like my other two colleagues, I am satisfied. I have confidence in Comrade Alexander, that his oversight and the staff that he has will contribute to the expected transparency and accountability,” he posited.
On the other hand, the appointed Chief Elections Officer, Vincent Alexander, related that a lot of young people will be vying for various positions in the Party. He, however, reiterated that the incumbent Leader, former President David Granger, will not be present at the congress.
“The incumbent Leader will not be seeking re-election, and every other tier of leadership will see relatively young and new blood vying for positions. We are literally witnessing the seamless transitioning of the party’s leadership…They have called upon the delegates to cast their votes based on the dispassionate determination of what’s best for the Party and ultimately the country,” said Alexander.
This time around, some 3000 delegates will exercise their franchise to elect new leadership. Spanning 13 polling stations, preliminary results will be available in the wee hours of Sunday.
Over 100 candidates will be vying for positions ranging from Leader, Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons, Treasurer, and Central Executive Members.
“The stage has been set for the Congress and, most importantly, the election. The voters’ list has been prepared after much scrutiny by the stakeholders. The elections machinery has been established, oiled and activated with the concurrence of and under the oversight of all of the stakeholders,” Alexander noted.
Last week, immediate past Chairman of the PNCR, Basil Williams, announced that he would no longer be contesting for the party’s leadership post. Williams had announced his participation in the leadership race after being nominated by members at last month’s Nomination Day.
This withdrawal was issued on the day when Congress was initially slated to be held. The party had rescheduled the Congress for this Saturday after some contentions were raised about the transparency of the elections.
In fact, only last month, party members Annette Ferguson, Ganesh Mahipaul and Carol Smith-Joseph stepped down from the Congress Committee over concerns of conflict of interest. Ferguson and Mahipaul – both APNU/AFC Opposition Members of Parliament – along with Smith-Joseph, had all publicly endorsed candidates who are contesting to become the next PNCR Leader. Smith-Joseph has thrown her support behind front runner Aubrey Norton while the two Parliamentarians have endorsed Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon.
Moreover, Mahipaul is also in the race for the PNCR Chairmanship. Harmon had indicated that if he wins leadership, he would make Mahipaul the next General Secretary of the PNCR.
There have been mounting concerns over the electoral process of the upcoming congress. Party member Dr Richard Van West-Charles, who is also vying for the leadership post, had previously called for current General Secretary Amna Ally to recuse herself from the post to allow for transparency and accountability in the election process. He had also alleged there were efforts by some to sway the PNCR membership to vote in a particular manner.