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Norton, Harmon for more talks on status of Opposition Leader

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 January 2022, 21:11 by Denis Chabrol

The Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Aubrey Norton and Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon are due to hold more talks on the latter giving up that constitutional post, but with due process that the decision must involve the umbrella A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), senior party officials said.

The PNCR’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) last week Thursday decided that Mr. Norton should become a parliamentarian and take over the post of Opposition Leader from Mr. Harmon. But APNU and the Opposition Leader’s Office have said that such decisions could not ignore the fact that it is APNU+AFC that is in Parliament and the established structures must be used.

Prior to Monday’s meeting with Mr. Harmon, the PNCR Leader told Demerara Waves Online News that, “I recognise that the APNU has structure; the details I will deal with at the right time.” The PNCR Leader has also said then that he could not see how individual decisions of each party in a coalition could be binding on another party. “As I understand coalition, you get together, you meet, you discuss and where there is agreement among all, it’s a different issue than talking about individual parties binding on the APNU+AFC,” he has said.

Mr. Norton stated that he did not say last week that the PNCR’s decision must be binding on the APNU+AFC, even as he recalled saying that he would hold discussions with PNC, APNU and AFC. “At no stage did I comment on what method would be used. I merely reported to the press that the PNCR Central Executive took a decision,” he said.

Other PNCR sources said that the transition to Mr. Norton, as Opposition Leader, could take several months after the differences are resolved through “sensible dialogue and communication.” “It is one that they have decided to resolve whatever there is in the public domain,” one of the sources added.

The sources cautioned that if the matter is not resolved amicably and it is put to a vote among opposition parliamentarians, Mr. Harmon could win by a comfortable majority as the APNU segment in the House is largely stacked with his loyalists.

But at the same time, one of the sources said that would be a move of last resort because the PNCR and the combined opposition needed to retain a semblance of unity.

Mr. Harmon has refused to comment on the talks, and Mr. Norton has not answered or returned calls following Monday’s meeting.