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The Executive of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) was on Friday afternoon locked in discussion with the Leadership of the Alliance For Change (AFC) as talks continue on the election of a new Opposition Leader in light of Joseph Harmon’s resignation on Wednesday.
With the PNCR nominating its Leader, Aubrey Norton for the post it is likely that it will be looking to win the support of the AFC to have an A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament recalled to pave the way for Norton to take up a seat in the National Assembly, and ultimately become Opposition Leader.
The PNCR is the largest party in the APNU+AFC Coalition, which holds 31 seats in the National Assembly. Though Harmon has resigned as Opposition Leader, he remains a Parliamentarian.
As such, among the pressing issues facing the coalition is the need to recall one of its own – that person is likely to be a PNCR MP, however, on Friday, its Chairman, Shurwayne Holder told the press that regardless, there is still need for all parties to be consulted before any decision is taken.
“…we have to meet with our partners, we have to consult with all the parties before we arrive at any possible solution on this matter,” Holder told reporters during a virtual press conference.
According to him, aside from internal discussions and the meeting with the AFC, the party has already met with the representatives of the National Front Alliance (NFA) and the Guyana Action Party (GAP) on the matter, while meetings with other coalition partners – the Equal Rights and Justice Party and the Guyana Nation Builders – are pending.
It is unclear, however, whether the APNU+AFC, will be able to resolve the issues ahead of the Budgetary Debates, which are scheduled to commence on Monday, January 31, 2022.
“We are looking to resolve this matter as quickly as possible,” the PNCR Chairman said while noting that it is a “work in progress.”
He said in the absence of an Opposition Leader, the Opposition’s Chief Whip, Christopher Jones is “captaining the ship” until there is a solution.
Ahead of Harmon’s resignation the PNCR had placed significant pressure on him to resign as part of its quest to have Norton become Leader. And as such, it was expected that the transition would have been seamless, however, with former President David Granger remaining Leader of the List of Representatives, despite his decision to step down as Chairman of APNU, it appears to be an uphill task. There is reportedly a push by one section of the PNCR to have a current MP elected Leader and not Norton.
On Friday, Holder declined to disclose what or who is stalling the process of electing a new Leader. “Mr. Harmon is still a Member of Parliament, and so, we are, where we are, and there needs to be further discussions so that we can resolve it,” he posited.
Days before Harmon tendered his resignation, resigned as APNU General Secretary while Granger resigned as Chairman. The latter resignation resulted in Norton becoming Chairman of APNU. The Central Executive of the PNCR is also pushing for Norton to become Leader of the List of Representatives but it is unclear when Granger can be legally removed.
“I am still doing some research. I have done part of the research and I shared what I have discovered thus far with the Leader of the Party but I have not come to a definitive position,” PNCR General Secretary Geeta Chandan-Edmond said when asked to weigh in on the matter.
Chandan-Edmond is an Attorney-at-Law and former Magistrate. She, however, underscored the importance of coalition politics. “We believe that coalition politics is the best way to go and that’s why we are meeting, we are engaging with all parties, all stakeholders involved. This is not a decision that will affect only the PNC but it will affect all partners of the coalition, that’s the APNU and the AFC,” the GS said.
Chandan-Edmond also iterated the PNCR’s position that the Leader of the PNCR should be the Leader of the Opposition.