Last Updated on Monday, 20 February 2023, 18:28 by Denis Chabrol
The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)- on the 100th birth anniversary of its Founder Leader Forbes Burnham- needs to reach across the political divide in the interest of nation building, his son-in-law Dr Richard Vanwest Charles said on Sunday.
“Let us embrace diverse views, let us be courteous and respectful, talk to our comrades across the aisle and don’t be afraid. Intellect, humility, respect for each other are important ingredients,” he said.
In April 2022, PNCR and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton accused Dr Van West Charles of wanting to be a middleman to broker talks with President Irfaan Ali. In August, 2022 Mr Norton refused to shake President Ali’s hand, saying that he would not do so with his oppressor.
Arguing that Guyana could not develop by surpassing the needs of only 0ne ethnicity, Dr Vanwest Charles said the PNCR needed to close the gap in its understanding and contribution of the ethnic mosaic. He suggested that parliamentarians should examine Mr Burnham’s style in parliament coupled with political work on the ground.
Looking ahead, he urged PNCR members to have an internal discussion and debate on how to deepen their understanding of global change including when to part with thorny issues.
Speaking at a service at the Trinity Methodist Church, High Street, Stabroek to usher in a month of Burnham remembrance activities, he said the PNCR leader’s political life had always been one of collaboration, compromise and negotiation “well clothed” with respect, and courtesies extended even in the midst of political battle.
“He was not divisive in his relations with the different strata of society here in Guyana but sought to understand the determinants, the behaviours of people at all different levels,” he said. Dr Van West Charles said the setting of an example for young people was important and the behaviours that PNCR members exhibit.
He said Mr Burnham listened and was guided by the opinions of the membership by the Central Executive, General Council and party groups. Dr Vanwest Charles advised that the role of the party, meaning and membership have to be on the “front-burner”. “Our actions cannot be inimical to the development and there must be an understanding of and the tolerance of different viewpoints,” he added. The former Health Minister said even if Burnham had made a decision based on new evidence and information, he would be amenable to change.
He recommended that the women’s movement become attractive to all strata of society, and he also challenged the party to record its history and that of its leaders at all levels and educate its members. “It has a duty to educate with evidence, not with a culture of war but understanding its contribution to the development of the country,” he said.
Mr Norton, veteran PNCR member Cheryl Sampson and Chairman of the Forbes Burnham Foundation have all hailed their party’s Founder Leader for spearheading policies such as food self-sufficiency, national unity, Caribbean integration, foreign policy formulation, access to education, self-reliance, hinterland development, the promotion of women’s rights and giving youths political opportunities. “Burnham in my opinion, and I think in then opinion of many, has been the greatest leader we have produced,” Mr Norton said.