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—says PNCR can’t decide who leads APNU+AFC in Parliament
Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon is resisting calls for him to go insisting that he has derived his mandate from APNU+AFC Coalition that contested the last general and regional elections.
Harmon’s statement was made hours after new Leader of the PNCR, Aubrey Norton told a news conference that his party’s executive made a decision for him to be both the leader of the opposition as well as the leader of the list of representatives. “The main Parliamentary Opposition is the APNU+AFC coalition and consists of 31 Members of Parliament.
The APNU Partnership has an established structure and if the executive of a
party in the partnership has a position and they wish to express that
position; they should follow the established procedures. The Office of the Leader of the Opposition is a constitutional office and is consequently governed by the constitution,” Harmon said.
Norton told a news conference Friday morning that he intends to meet with Harmon to discuss the matter before Wednesday next week. For Norton to take over from Harmon one of the APNU+AFC Member of Parliament would have to resign as a Member of Parliament or conversely Harmon himself could be recalled. However, given that former President David Granger is still legally the leader of the list it is not clear how the process will move forward.
Since his election to the office of leader, there have been calls for Norton to take over as the Leader of the Opposition. Norton during his campaign for leadership was confronted with a number of important questions, among them, whether he will seek to have Harmon recall, should he be elected Leader of the PNCR.
In response, Norton had 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 had said then.
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.