Will leadership change in the PNCR affect Opposition Leader post?

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…Norton skirts question as he re-double efforts to win leadership of the party

Aubrey Norton, who is among Executive Members of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) contesting for the Leadership of the Party, offered no clear indication whether he will push to retain Joseph Harmon as the Leader of the Opposition, should he (Norton) be elected Leader of the PNCR when congress is held next Saturday.

Both Norton and Harmon are contesting for the Leadership of the PNCR, in addition to Dr. Richard Van West-Charles, another Executive, however, based on nominations submitted, Norton is in the lead.

During his most recent appearance on Politics 101 – a virtual programme hosted by Political Scientist, Dr. David Hinds – Norton was confronted with a number of important question, among them, whether he will seek to have the Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon recall, should he (Norton) be elected Leader of the PNCR.

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In response, Norton said he will cross that bridge when he gets there but his immediate focus is on becoming the next Leader of the PNCR. However, he said his future decision, should he be elected, would be influenced by the masses.

“For me, the immediate task is to become leader of the party, and when I become leader of the party I will listen to the popular views of the people, in the party and out of the party, and I will act in keeping with their issues,” Norton said.

The Political Scientist, who once served as General Secretary of the PNCR, said the party’s Constitution is silent on the issue.

It was Harmon, who in his bid to be Leader of the PNCR, told reporters on Nominations Day that the Leader of the Party and the Leader of the Opposition should be a single person.

In support of his argument, he pointed out that when Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham served as President of Guyana, he was also Leader of the PNCR. Similarly, he said when Desmond Hoyte served as President and later Opposition Leader, he was also Leader of the PNCR. He noted that the situation was the same for Robert Corbin, who served as Opposition Leader, and former President David Granger.

“I think there is a pattern of these two positions merging. I am the Leader of the Opposition now but I am not the Leader of the Party, and so what we are aiming to do with these elections is to basically bring those two positions, so we could have that strength and that power to go forward,” Harmon explained.

However, Harmon said win or lose, he will continue to work in the interest of the party and the people of Guyana.

Similarly, Norton told Dr. Hinds that should he win the Leadership of the Party, he will foster a spirit of cohesion. “I think I have already begun to carve the attitude to the extent that I have attacked no one; that is a conscious decision because I recognize that in the future I have to work with everybody in this party,” he said.

He said it is his intention to dismantle the culture of isolating persons who opposed Leaders within the Party during elections.

“Even if people would have opposed me, I hope that we can utilize them for the skills they have and I hope that they on the other hand could recognize that we are all in one party, we need to work together and that our major enemy is the People’s Progressive Party,” he reasoned.

Norton also spoke of his intention of not only building the PNCR but strengthening the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition, for which PNCR is a major partner, through inclusionary governance.



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