Last Updated on Sunday, 9 July 2023, 22:28 by Denis Chabrol
There are growing calls inside the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) for that political party to hold long-overdue meetings of its second highest decision-making body in between congresses.
But party Chairman Shurwayne Holder said uncertainty about contesting the Local Government Elections was one of the major reasons for the almost year-long delay in holding General Council. “A General Council is due. We wanted to have one before the Local Government Elections but time did not permit. We had other difficulties so we had to scrap that,” he said. He added that a General Council meeting was “in the pipeline” but he could not give a date.
The latest demand for General Council meetings was issued about two weeks ago by PNCR Executive member and opposition parliamentarian, Amanza Walton-Desir in an internal correspondence to other Central Executive Committee (CEC) members. “It is now almost one year since a General Council was last convened, effectively shutting off an important “pressure relief valve”. This lapse must be remedied in the shortest possible time. I propose that the General Secretary be directed to convene a meeting of the General Council within the next 30 days,” said Ms Walton-Desir , an Attorney-at-Law.
Contacted on Sunday by Demerara Waves Online News, she would only say that she was optimistic that General Council would meet soon and that such a decision would be made at the next CEC meeting. “It hasn’t been discussed yet…I’m quite optimistic that General Council will be held. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be,” she said.
The PNCR Chairman said the non-holding of four General Council meetings per year has been going on for “many, many years” and so the Aubrey Norton-led party that was elected to office in December 2021. “It is to our credit that we had three General Councils since we came in,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
Mr Holder explained that the PNCR had wanted to hold General Council meeting last December but the LGE date had been announced, causing the party to decide whether to participate. “There was a lot happening at the central level and so that took away from the focus. When we made the decision to go and secure our strongholds, we had to really pick up on some things to ensure that we satisfied the criteria, satisfy the legal stuff to qualify for elections,” he said.
Pressed on whether the PNCR would have performed better at the LGE on June 12, 2023, he conceded that “it probably would have been better if we had had the General Council but you have to learn from this and move forward.”
Ms Walton, who used the opportunity of her missive to point to her connection to the PNCR, indicated that every effort should be made to ensure that General Council is genuinely a deliberative body. “As the CEC, we must be committed to keeping open the avenues for transparent and constructive feedback from our membership,” she said.
The PNCR’s Constitution states that at least 14 days notice must be given for a General Council meeting and the quorum shall be 50 percent of that Council.
With the holding of the LGE, the PNCR’s General Council will see the exit of a number of old faces who will be replaced by Chairman, Vice Chairmen, Mayors and Deputy Mayors.