PNCR will return to grassroots politics – new leader

…as Harmon, Granger excluded from Central Executive Committee

Newly inaugurated leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton said that under his stewardship, the party will return to the grassroots politics it once practiced, going into every village and feeling the pulse of the base.
The leadership of the PNCR was officially handed over to a tearful Norton on Monday, after which he addressed his party comrades. According to Norton, the party’s work will not be based in Congress Place but rather, will be out in the villages interacting with the people.
“It is clear that our work is cut out. We intend to do the work on the ground. We intend to be on the ground. And we intend to be in every village, so we can feel the pulse. Because we are elected to represent the people. And we will.”
“I recall being a General Secretary of this party and Congress Place use to be a hive of activity. It will return. But I wanna say this. The focus won’t be so much on people coming to Congress Place, though people must come. The focus will be on us going out to meet our people and work with them,” he said.
According to Norton, it is in the fields that the party will get the real information it needs to fulfil its mandate. Norton also promised that his executive team and regional party councillors will be kept busy.
“One of the things that will happen in this executive is all executive members, whether they supported me or not, will be given tasks to carry out. We have an executive that comprises about 40 people. And if we can get all those hands-on deck…”
“We also have regional councillors. It is my express intention to give political guidance at the regional and general local government level and motivate them to become more involved in the process. I believe the issue here is motivation. I was overwhelmed before because of the level of support, we will use that broad based support to move the party forward,” Norton added.
The party leader also reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive governance of the party. In fact, Norton said that one of his rivals for leadership, Dr Richard Van West-Charles and party stalwart Volda Lawrence, will both be made advisors to the party.
Meanwhile, Vincent Alexander, who oversaw the elections, said in relation to the position of Second Vice Chairman for which Christopher Jones and Vinceroy Jordan tied, a tie-breaker mechanism will be determined by the new Central Executive Committee.

Meanwhile, the 15-member Central Executive Committee of the party was announced. Among the new faces are Amanza Walton Desir (who gained 350 votes); Ganesh Mahipaul (326); Coretta McDonald (317) and Geeta Chandan-Edmonds (445).
Jermaine Figueira (536); Christopher Jones (586); Gary Best (618); Edward Collins (521); Kirk Frazer (362); Samuel Sandy (351); Troy Garraway (301); Riaz Roopnarine (289); Dawn Hastings (484) and Hazel Pyle-Lewis (406) were also elected to the executive of the party.
Conspicuously absent from the executive are big names like Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon, who had challenged Norton for leadership, and former leader and former President David Granger.
While Norton singled out Granger for praise during his address to the party on Monday, pointing to the 10 years he spent leading the party, no mention has been made about Granger’s or Harmon’s future with the party. In the meantime, the PNCR sent out a statement which further detailed the appointments to be made.
“Ten more members of the Central Executive will be co-opted, five by the party leader and five by the Central Executive Committee, respectively, and this is likely to be done when the executive holds its first formal meeting. Further, each of the eleven party regions is entitled to elect one representative from their region to sit on the Central Executive Committee,” the party explained.
“The Central Executive Committee will be complete with the appointment of the General Secretary, which will be done by the party leader, and the principal political secretaries which will be by the Central Executive Committee.”

US Embassy
Coming on the heels of Norton’s election as leader of the party, the United States Embassy in Guyana which is headed by Ambassador Sarah Ann-Lynch, extended congratulations to him. In a very short message on its Twitter page, the Embassy committed to working with Norton.
“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,” the Embassy said in its statement.
Norton secured a landslide victory at the PNCR’s 21st biennial congress, obtaining more than half of the 1280 votes cast. He got 967 votes while Opposition Leader Harmon obtained 245 votes and Van West-Charles received 64 votes.
Norton’s nearest rival, Harmon had conceded since Saturday evening and had congratulated Norton in a post on his Facebook page. He had also affirmed his commitment to fostering unity within the party.
When this publication made contact with Harmon after the official announcement of results on Sunday, he reaffirmed his willingness to work with whoever is in charge of the party. According to him, however, the results change nothing where his position as Opposition Leader is concerned.
The race for the chairmanship of the party turned into a convincing victory for Team Norton, with APNU Member of Parliament (MP) Shurwayne Holder winning the position. He came out victorious having secured 407 votes – the highest among the 10 contesting for that post including some senior party members. (G3)