Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 May 2021, 8:41 by Denis Chabrol
Veteran Guyanese politician and academic, Aubrey Norton on Tuesday night announced that he would be contesting for the position of leader of his People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and he hopes to rebuild his party and revive the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).
“The direct answer to that is once the Congress of the People’s National Congress Reform is called, I intend to run for leadership of the party but to serve the party,” he said on “Politics 101 With David Hinds”. At the same time, he pledged to work with anyone else who emerges as leader out of a democratic process.
No date has been set for the Congress and, already party leader David Granger has ruled out a face-to-face forum due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Some party insiders have said the Congress could be held by August.
Other likely contenders are incumbent Chairman, Volda Lawrence; Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon and possibly Dr. Richard Vanwest Charles.
Expressing confidence that he would be victorious, Mr. Norton said he would be bringing to the position his political experience in the PNCR since he was 15 years old, his incorruptibility, courage, academic training, desire for teamwork and commitment and dedication to his party even when he had been sidelined. “I have consistently worked for this party. At times, when many people thought I should have been rewarded in the People’s National Congress for the work I did and I wasn’t rewarded, I did not take a position that I didn’t get a position so I wouldn’t work. I have consistently worked for this party over the years even when, in my opinion, I was given a raw deal,” he said.
Among his plans are rebuilding the PNCR and reviving the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity which has become fragmented especially since losing power at the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections. The Working People’s Alliance, Justice For All Party and the National Front Alliance have either exited the coalition or have not been active.
Mr. Norton said one of the problems that had faced the coalition was that it had not met frequently to shape policies for governmental action. Similar concerns had been often raised publicly by the Working People’s Alliance. “Another thing I would do is really to work with the coalition to establish that system I talk about so that coalition members feel part and parcel of the decision-making and willing to work because people when feel alienated you don’t get the best of them but when they feel that they are part and parcel of the decision-making, then you recognise that there is an increase in the commitment and they will do what is necessary to ensure success,” he said.
He also promised to ensure that party members are rewarded for hard work instead of being sidelined as he and others had been. “I also believe that it is very important that any political party, more so the People’s National Congress reward the people who work. Too regularly, we find in this world people work and then somebody, based on some close affiliation, gets the reward rather than the persons who work. I believe there are a lot of hard workers in the People’s National Congress Reform and they should get the rewards of their labour,” he said.
While serving as PNCR General Secretary, he and then party leader Desmond Hoyte had gone through a rough relationship. When the coalition had won the 2015 general and regional elections, he had been appointed Youth Empowerment Advisor but months later he and other Presidential Advisors had been sent packing by then President David Granger.
Mr. Granger, who is the Representative of the List of candidates, has also been harshly criticised in party circles for not picking party Chairman Volda Lawrence, Norton, and other hardworking members to become Parliamentarians following the March 2020 polls.
Mr. Norton also has plans to organise a “comprehensive political education and leadership training programme” for party members and create opportunities for wealth generation as a pathway towards economic empowerment and political victory.
He also hopes to create a system to work in the Indo-Guyanese communities to create the environment for easier communication to make decisions and address problems.