Van West-Charles withdraws as Norton’s adviser

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…complains about being sidelined, ignored by PNCR’s leadership

People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) member Dr. Richard Van West-Charles has withdrawn his service as Adviser to the Leader of the PNCR, Aubrey Norton, complaining that he was being sidelined and repeatedly ignored by the party’s leadership.

The ‘Notice of Withdrawal,’ dated April 14, 2022, was addressed to Norton, in his capacity as Leader of the PNCR. It came approximately four months after Norton, upon his election to Office as Party Leader, identified Dr. Van West-Charles as being one of his two advisers.

In the letter, which was seen by the Village Voice Newspaper, Dr. Van West-Charles chronicled the events that unfolded during and after the results of PNCR’s 22nd Biennial Congress were declared in December, 2021.

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Once elected Leader, Norton had approached Dr. Van West-Charles and Volda Lawrence – a former PNCR Chairperson – to be his advisers – positions, he subsequently announced publicly. But Dr. Van West-Charles said his role as an adviser was never clearly defined despite having at least two meetings with Norton, who has now been elected Leader of the Opposition.

In the letter, he recalled advising Norton, on December 22, 2021, to meet with then Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon, who, along with him, had suffered a massive defeat at the PNCR Elections. But though Harmon reportedly agreed to the meeting, it never materialized.

“Despite my best efforts, I was unable to reach you, to share those developments and the undertaking Cde. Harmon had given to meet,” Dr. Van West-Charles told Norton in the ‘Withdrawal Notice.’ Village Voice News understands that Norton has made tremendous efforts to meet with Harmon even before he became leader of the opposition. Sources told this newspaper that even recently Norton has tried to arrange a meeting with Harmon for the proper handing over of the office of Leader of the Opposition, but this too has not materialised.

Van- West Charles complained too that despite being out of the jurisdiction between December, 2021 and January, 2022, he dispatched a number of documents relating to the development of the party for Norton’s consideration but to date, a response has not been forthcoming. “A number of calls to you were also unanswered and unacknowledged. I returned to Guyana on January 13th 2022 and it was a most difficult experience of trying to reach you,” he further told Norton.

According to Dr. Van West-Charles, he had also arranged for the PNCR Leader to meet with a visiting delegations which was in Guyana for the International Energy Conference and Expo in February, 2022 but that too proved futile due to ‘miscommunication.’

However, Norton subsequently met with Dr. Van West-Charles. At that meeting, Dr. Van West-Charles reportedly sought clarification on his role as advisor, and was given “a broad direction of interest in the development of the party.” A number of areas including Information Technology (IT) infrastructure for the party was discussed, however, he said due to miscommunication, the matter has not advanced.

“Additionally, Cde. Leader, there have been a number of political events which bear direct relationship to the Party’s development and strategic positioning which were addressed, but not necessarily in a strategic and comprehensive manner, that point to implications for the Party,” Dr. Van West-Charles said.

He said though being named Advisor, he was not afforded the courtesy of being informed about the party’s position on related matters, save and except by way of the press.

“Many members and supporters presume that I am au fait with all that has been going on within the CEC and the responses to matters thereof. This is quite unfair and unfortunate to me in my putative role as Advisor,” Dr. Van West-Charles said in the correspondence.

He told Norton that it would appear that the leadership of the party does not recognize the importance of re-engaging in a culture of consultation and advice.

“More so, it appears that the role of the Central Executive Committee remains diminished since none of the important political matters which you have responded to in the public domain, have benefitted from the consultation and discussion critical to the guidance and strategic focus the Party urgently needs!” he said.

Dr. Van West-Charles said that until his role as an Advisor is clarified and made functional, he has no other choice than to offer his withdraw from the position.

“I do wish to make a positive and effective contribution to the work of the Party, but not as a casual or optional appendage,” he said.

He reminded the PNCR Leader of the commitment made to unify the party and frontally address the issue of factionalism.

“The continuation of the SLATE culture utilised during our internal elections, which sees Comrades who supported other candidates being actively marginalized, cannot be the modality to achieve that end,” he posited.

Dr. Van West-Charles said though he cherishes the PNCR, he cannot continue on a road on which there is departure from its principles and values.

In another correspondence to the Central Executive Committee of the PNCR, Dr. Van West-Charles said approximately one week after sending the ‘Notice of Withdrawal’ to the Party Leader; General Secretary, Geeta Chandan-Edmond and Advisor, Volda Lawrence, he has not gotten as much as an acknowledgement.



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