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Aubrey Norton to contest PNCR leadership

Aubrey Norton

Former General Secretary of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton is set to contest the leadership of the party in what is gearing up to be a straight fight with incumbent, David Granger.

Norton declined to say whether he would accept the nomination, but well-placed sources close to him have confirmed that he and his team are quietly campaigning around the country including parts of East Coast Demerara and Linden.

PNCR General Secretary, Oscar Clarke told Demerara Waves Online News that nomination begins on July 12 and could continue close to the PNCR’s Congress slated for July 24 to 26, 2014. Asked how long the process would last, he said “I expect to get nominations from groups in the week following the 12th.” He said the cut-off date would be determined by the number of nominations that would come in and it “would have to be some time closer to the Congress.”

When contacted, Norton said he would speak on whether he would contest the election for the position of leader only after nominations are made.  Asked whether he has been canvassing support, he said “people have asked me. I am not canvassing support. Let’s wait until the nomination.”

The PNCR has sidelined Norton from the National Assembly immediately following the 2011 general and regional elections and the resignation of Richard Allen in April, 2013 and the resignation and subsequent death of Deborah Backer in March, 2014.

Norton,57, is widely regarded as a strong campaigner, political strategist and foreign policy expert while his detractors shun him because of what they perceive to be his unrelenting quest for the leadership of the party.

Political Scientist and newspaper columnist, Freddie Kissoon supports Norton becoming the next PNCR Leader because he is a very good organizer and has working class roots.  “I think he brings a vibrancy to PNC’s constitution that I don’t see strongly existing in other leaders,” he said of his former colleague lecturer at the University of Guyana (UG). “In a country like Guyana, the more you’re accepted by the poorer class, the working class I think the better for your political capital,” Kissoon.  He said it was time for the comparatively younger Norton, who has grown up in the PNCR, to be given a chance to lead it.

Commenting on 69-year old Granger, Kissoon highlighted that the retired Brigadier of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) possesses integrity, decency and patriotism. At the same time, he believes that Guyana needs very energetic and angry people who believe that enough is enough.  “I think he will make a very, very honest nationalist President but I’m not too sure that in the cutting edge of politics in a country like Guyana needs especially with our very strong ethnic competition in addition to that is a total run over of the rich class over the poor class, I am not sure he has that kind of anger that someone like a Norton or Vincent Alexander would have,” he said.

Critics of Granger say that under his leadership A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)of which the PNCR is the major constituency has been preoccupied with mostly calling for Commissions of Inquiry into various types of abuses rather than dealing with bread and butter issues. On the other hand, his pluses include being able to soothe historical tensions with the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPPC) mainly East Indian-dominated support base.  He has been also credited with working steadfastly in Amerindian communities, increasingly being viewed as a critical source of balance-of-power in an environment where the PPPC’s support has been waning.  

For the first time after the return of free and fair elections in 1992, the PPPC lost its parliamentary majority in the 2011 general elections, resulting in the country’s first minority government.