Harmon won’t contest PNCR Chairmanship ; says ministerial duties require “my full time and attention”

Last Updated on Friday, 26 August 2016, 21:55 by Denis Chabrol

At least two nominees for two top People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) leadership positions say they are not interested in the Chairmanship and Vice Chairmanship.

Joseph Harmon said, as Minister of State, he prefers to concentrate his energy and time on governmental functions rather than having to straddle them with party duties as Vice Chairman.

“I believe , at this time, the reason why I declined the domination, I believe that there are more important issues to be dealt with in the coalition government as a coalition and that will require my full time and attention as opposed to basically splitting it with a higher leadership role within the party,” he said.

Harmon, however, declined to say who he would be endorsing but said his choice would be guided by competence of the candidate.

The Minister of State said he would continue to do work at the grassroots level of the party to ensure that supporters are prepared for Guyana’s next general elections constitutionally due in 2020.

Effectively, the Chairman is the Deputy party leader.

PNCR Chairman Basil Williams is also Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, and Vice Chairman Norton is the Minister of Public Health.  In that context, Harmon said some top [arty executives who are also ministers are seasoned. “They have actually become accustomed to balancing their responsibilities between party and government but in my particular case, as you know , I am always in the spotlight, I am always there, I am the Minister of State and, therefore, I have an additional responsibility of ensuring that the coalition’s policies are always kept in focus and we succeed as a coalition government,” she said.

Nominated for the two Vice Chairmen positions are Volda Lawrence, current Vice Chairman Dr. George Norton, Beni Rayman, Clement Corlette, Aubrey Norton, James Bond, Dawn Hastings, Christopher Jones and Winston Felix.

Long-time PNCR woman activist and party member, Lurlene Nestor said she would not  be contesting the post of Chairman, but would like to be voted in on the Central Executive. “I declined Chairman of the party but I am running for Central Executive. I am currently the Vice Chairman of the North American Group of the PNCR and so I am comfortable in that position at this time,” Nestor told reporters.

She declared that the PNCR is Guyana’s most democratic political party that is geared to lead the government for future elections to come based on unity and empowerment.

The other nominee for Chairman is Volda Lawrence, Minister of Social Protection.

Norton is being challenged for the post of Vice Chairman at a time when he is embroiled in a controversy over the rental of a “professional office space” that has since been converted into a pharmaceutical bond and is being rented for GYD$14 million inclusive of VAT from Linden Holdings Limited, a company owned by Lawrence “Larry” Singh, who was seen at the opening of the PNCR’s Congress.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, he admitted that he misinformed the National Assembly earlier this month, apologised and begged PNCR delegates to forgive and support him.