President David Granger on Sunday sought to dispel talk that he has not been on the best of terms with Minister of State Joseph Harmon over the past several months.
Addressing supporters at the official opening of the brand new Region 3 headquarters of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the party leader repeatedly lauded Harmon for his “energy and vision”.
“He has been the backbone of two campaigns in 2011 and 2015 but at the same time he has been the backbone of development in Region 3.
“This is testimony not only to his vision for this party and this Region but to his energy and commitment, and I thank him and congratulate him for it,” Granger said.
Relations between Harmon and Granger have from time to time come under the microscope. That was especially so last year when the President had written to oil companies and international financial institutions to conduct business directly with the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of Energy.
The petroleum sector had also been removed from Harmon’s list of gazetted responsibilities, except for reporting to the National Assembly, and public sector stakeholder engagements that are delegated to him by the President.
In the run-up to last August’s PNCR Congress at which Harmon had contested for the party’s chairmanship, Harmon had not been a favourite among sections of the party because of his close relations with certain businessmen such as Brian Tiwari. Tiwari had at one time been closely affiliated with the Bharrat Jagdeo-led People’s Progressive Party/Civic administration.
In a three-way race that had also involved then two-term Chairman, Basil Williams, Volda Lawrence won the majority of votes to capture that key political office in the PNCR.