PNCR ad-hoc committee recommends November for hybrid Congress

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 August 2021, 21:50 by Denis Chabrol

A section of the attendees at the opening of the Biennial Delegates Congress in 2018.

An ad-hoc committee of the People’s National Congress Reform’s (PNCR) executive has recommended that the long-awaited Congress be held in November in a mixed format of in-person and virtually, but already excuses are being made for delaying the holding of a Central Executive Committee meeting to discuss the report and forge ahead with arrangements, sources said Sunday.

The sources said the committee, against the  backdrop of COVID-19 restrictions, has proposed that Congress be held in late November.

The sources said that the PNCR’s Constitution allows for CEC meetings to be held comprising at least 10 persons- five elected directly to CEC and five from other arms of the party. However, according to the sources, although the report has been submitted to the CEC,  PNCR Leader David Granger, Chairman Volda Lawrence and General Secretary Amna Ally, no effort has been made to convene a CEC meeting.

Instead, the sources said, flimsy excuses such as parliamentarians are on their annual recess and a number of them is overseas, have been given for not convening a CEC meeting last week Wednesday since the reported was submitted last week. Multiple sources rejected those as valid reasons on the grounds that already CEC meetings are held in mixed mode- virtually and in person. “Congress is the most important issue in the party right now but CEC was postponed,” the source said.

With August fast coming to an end, one of the sources said many CEC members would be held before month-end. “There is no desire for it to be in September because of the importance of Congress,” another source added.

A number of CEC members, who have been clamouring for the Congress to be held this year, is concerned about delaying tactics not to act on the report expeditiously.

The PNCR sources said voting for the positions of Leader, Chairman, Vice Chairmen and 15 Central Executive Committee members would be done at central locations in each administrative region where there would individual returning officers.

The  sources explained that it is being recommended that one part of the Congress would be virtual for the reports and the discussions but the voting would be done virtually. “Everyone will not be going to Congress so it will be a decentralised Congress,” a source added.

Already, the ad-hoc committee has concluded that a virtual or hybrid Congress would not be a violation of Guyana’s constitution. “The legal opinion indicated that the PNCR Constitution does not prohibit the business to be transacted at congress, including the elections of officers, from being so transacted by Delegates gathered at contemporaneous meetings held at various locations,” the Committee has said.

Documents seen by News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News state that there were 904 delegates at the 2018 Congress that was held at Congress Place, but in light of COVID-19 the party is worried that a face-to-face in-person Congress could be a “super-spreader” for the virus. In all, the PNCR says its Congress attracts at least 2,000 delegates, observers, staff and special invitees.

The PNCR was also said to be wary about getting approval from the COVID-19 Task Force for holding a Congress at its party headquarters.

Congress should have been held in August 2020 but had been pushed back due to planning for the March 2, 2020 general elections and even further delayed due to the COVID-19 virus that has so far claimed 594 lives.

Word that it is being recommended that Congress be held in November comes against the backdrop of concerns in a fairly large segment of the CEC that Mr. Granger is perceived as acting unilaterally. He has since rejected those concerns, calling them a part of a “media frenzy.”