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President Ali, PNCR’s Aubrey Norton wrangle over racial discrimination claims

Last Updated on Monday, 12 April 2021, 15:24 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali       Aubrey Norton 

President Irfaan Ali on Monday slammed executive member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton for accusing the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration of discriminating against Afro-Guyanese.

Dr. Ali charged that Mr. Norton’s claim of racial discrimination in favour of Indo-Guyanese was baseless and mischievous.  “To have Mr. Norton, without any basis,  making such a statement. There is no evidence he points to, making such a statement is reckless, it shows his depth of leadership, it shows his commitment to national healing and national development and it exposes his intention, to create mischief, to create distrust, to create disharmony and for that I have no respect,” the President said.

But Mr. Norton said there was clear evidence of racial discrimination in the delivery of the GYD$25,000 COVID relief grant, repossession of lands leased or sold to Afro-Guyanese and the sacking of more than 1,000 Afro-Guyanese since the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) left office last August, 2020.

Mr. Norton said statistical analysis has been done to back up his claim, but he was not prepared to present it to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) unless that constitutional body establishes a tribunal. “Waste of time! Telling them what? The Ethnic Relations Commission- There is provision in the law for the establishment of a tribunal to deal with those issues. If they establish an impartial tribunal, I am prepared to do that,” he said.

He said in every Afro-Guyanese community, he has received complaints that COVID relief personnel said they were distributing the cash grants only to landlords but Indo-Guyanese households. “That is clear as day and it doesn’t matter what the President said, the reality on the ground bears out the fact that they have been discriminatory in their approach,” said Mr. Norton who is Executive Director of the Opposition Leader’s Office.

The long-serving Guyanese politician highlighted that residents in Leopold Street, Georgetown received ‘pink-slips’ but in Industry, East Coast Demerara “they all got.” “I don’t know what the President is saying. It is clear discrimination and that is just one area,” he said.

Mr. Norton said efforts to repossess lands would lead persons to believe that only Afro-Guyanese received property from the then APNU+AFC administration. “Many other ethnic groups got but the focus is on Afro-Guyanese and depriving them of property. I challenge them to bring evidence to the contrary,” he said.

The PNCR Executive member said the coalition had set up a night school at the mainly Afro-Guyanese village of Kildonan, Corentyne but the PPP has since moved that institution to Bush Lot “at a point where it is dangerous for people to go so they can’t say they are not discriminating.”  Mr. Norton further charged that the PPPC administration was dismantling every gain  that Afro-Guyanese received under APNU+AFC.

Mr. Norton pointed out that predominantly Afro-Guyanese public sector has not received wage and salary increases, but a few persons have been hired on high-paying contracts.

Mr. Norton’s weekend statement was reproduced on the Facebook pages of APNU and PNCR.