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PNCR’s Aubrey Norton pledges to bring back parties into coalition if elected leader

Last Updated on Friday, 27 August 2021, 11:30 by Denis Chabrol

Aubrey Norton

Prospective Leader for the People’s National Congress Reform, Aubrey Norton on Friday promised g to work to strengthen the coalition and resolve the issues that prompted parties to leave A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).

“I will also seek to resolve the issues that prompted parties to leave the collective. All coalition parties will be respected. It is my firm belief that a bigger and better coalition is an achievable goal,” said Mr. Norton, a well-known Political Scientist.

He stated his commitment in the wake of no-confidence motions by the Alliance For Change (AFC) Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) councillors against the Regional Chairman Daniel Seeram and Vice Chairman  Samuel Sandy.

Since A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) lost the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections, the Working People’s Alliance and the Justice For All Party.  The National Front Alliance has since resurfaced as a member of APNU.

Leader of the National Front Alliance and President David Granger, who is also Chairman of APNU and Leader of the PNCR.

Mr. Norton, who is a former PNCR General Secretary, said if he is elected at the next Congress he would put in place a dispute resolution mechanism for all coalition members. “I will work to strengthen the coalition by recommitting to our founding beliefs and by restructuring the working relationship among partners. The coalition must, for example, have robust internal mechanisms to facilitate interparty dialogue and resolve disputes,” he said.

He assured that “all coalition parties will be respected” towards achieving a bigger and better coalition for the benefit of all Guyanese.”

During most of the term of office of APNU+AFC in office, the WPA had repeatedly accused Coalition Chairman and then President David Granger of not convening APNU Council meetings to offer political guidance to the government.

Mr. Granger has also been accused of alienating the WPA and JFAP by not selecting candidates to become parliamentarians on the basis that they had not earned at least 7,000 votes at the general and regional elections.

He had also fallen out with the WPA for not consulting properly with that party about whom should be selected on a rotational basis to sit in the House. In the end, the then WPA candidate Tabitha Sarabo-Halley resigned from that party’s chairmanship and took up her parliamentary seat.

Leader of the Justice for All Party, Chandra Narine Sharma speaking with President David Granger.

The AFC’s no-confidence motions against the Region Four Chairman and Vice Chairman also come against the backdrop of claims by that party that its councillors are being sidelined from chairing committees while Mr. Seeram chairs all of them. The AFC said most of those committees have not met for several months, resulting in a loss of jobs and contractors being unpaid.

Mr. Seeram has declined to comment.

For his part, Mr. Norton  did not to go into the issues surrounding the no-confidence motions but said he was concerned about the implications. “As a longstanding member of the PNCR/APNU and as a contender for leader of the party, I note with serious concern the NCM motion tabled by the AFC against the APNU Reg 4 Chairman and Vice Chairman. Regardless of the specifics of the matter, such situations must not be allowed to emerge. They hurt the interests and image of the parties and distract from addressing the people’s business,” he said.

PNCR executive member Dr. Richard Vanwest Charles and party elder Hamilton Green have also said they would like to see the WPA return to APNU.

No date has been fixed for the PNCR’s Congress, although a report recommends that it be held no later than November 2o21.