PNCR congress ends in major rift, Granger remains leader
By Abena Rockcliffe
Notwithstanding the confusion, division, claims of a rigged election and the single gunshot which sent the young and the old running for cover; reinstated leader of the People National Congress/Reform (PNC/R), David Granger declared that the party’s 18th biennial congress a success.
Congress is traditionally formal meetings where members of a political Party discuss ideas, solve problems and make plans to move forward. Also, this is usually an occasion where Party members get to elect the persons they want to lead them. But this wasn’t the case for the PNC/R as it seems as if the Party has not been able to solve any of its problems and has found itself more divided than ever before in the public’s eye. Of all the positions that were to be voted upon—leader, chairman, vice chairs (two) and treasurer—only the treasurer was actually voted in. Granger maintained leadership unopposed after his only challenger, Aubrey Norton, just before voting commenced, announced that he was withdrawing because he was dissatisfied with the process. Region 10 Chairman, Sharma Solomon also thought that the process was flawed and he too pulled out as a candidate for Chairmanship of the Party. Solomon and Norton were the only two who competed against Basil Williams for Chairman. Therefore, Williams was also given back his Chairman position. Volda Lawrence and Dr. George Norton were also given back their vice chair positions. And Ronald Bulkan, the only one who had actually competed was reelected Treasurer.His competition was Clement Corlette.
Yesterday at a press conference held at Congress Place, Williams told the press that amidst some “administrative difficulties” over the delegate representation for Region Ten, a special effort was made by the leadership of the party and the accreditation committee to resolve all matters of concern that were raised. He said that it was finally agreed that irrespective of the difficulties concerning the issuing of delegate cards, all accredited delegates from Region 10 whose names were on the list would be allowed to vote.
Williams said that Solomon and Norton were issued with a copy of the final lists of approved delegates, “so as to allow them to observe and scrutinize the process.” He said that earlier in the day “two busloads” of persons from Linden arrived, all claiming to be delegates. Williams told the press that during the registration process, the Lindeners were advised that there were no Delegate cards for them. He said that “being very dissatisfied, they then proceeded to block the entrance to the auditorium where accredited delegates were assembling to vote.” The politician said that during the confusion an “explosive sound” was heard which caused momentary confusion.
However, according to Williams, order was quickly restored and the Congress proceeded with its business. Williams said that it is the opinion of the leadership of the PNCR that these events were deliberately orchestrated by the Peoples Progress Party/Civic (PPP/C) to sabotage the congress but “it failed miserably.” He said that the PNCR intends to mount an investigation to deal with those agents who helped with the PPP/C’s plan to sabotage the Congress. Confusion and firing of gunshot
Kaieteur News met with Norton, Solomon, Vanessa Kissoon, Carl Greenidge and three bus loads of Lindeners at Critchlow Labour College around 16:00hrs yesterday. Norton alleged that the voting process was flawed. Norton said that upon request, he received a list of those who were eligible to vote on Saturday night but the list he received yesterday morning differed significantly from the previous one. He said that most of all, the Linden voters were being disenfranchised, hence he felt the need to pull out the race. The long-time Party member said he is in possession of both lists but would not make it available to the press because, “it has my comrades’ names and I don’t know where it might end up.”
He said that not even Solomon was accredited. “Solomon himself didn’t get a card to vote; he ran about three times trying to get a card but was told that the card mysteriously disappeared.” Norton told Kaieteur News that the “explosive sound” was a gunshot. He said that he knows the identity of the person but wouldn’t tell the press…”we as a party will deal with that.” However, Norton said that he didn’t see the reason to use a gun. “I born and grow in this party, I have never heard of when any problem occur somebody ousting a gun and shooting up in the air, it never happened before.” Asked if he will resign from the party, Norton responded, “I wouldn’t want to comment on the future, but I am sure I want to see the back of the PPP government.” N
orton said that the Lindeners feel disrespected but “Lindeners are PNC people and I am a PNC man, so let’s see what happens.” Greenidge accounted similar occurrences to those reported by Norton. The Member of Parliament said that after the problem could not have been sorted out “the entire Linden contingent left.” Greenidge explained that he didn’t vote because he thinks the entire process needed to be reviewed. He described the Congress as a sad occasion but said he has hopes for better times. With regards to the discharging of a gunshot, Greenidge said that he hopes that those who saw what happened would lodge a report with the police. Independent reports received by Kaieteur News suggest that the man identified as “Primo” fired the single shot in the air because he felt “threatened.”
Damage control Granger tried to dismiss allegations of division within the party but said that the party had survived the loss of other members before and he has confidence that it can again. To support this, Granger pointed to the resignation of the now Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman. He said that he is not suggesting that it is good to lose members, but once the majority is happy, the show must go on. While Williams held out that he couldn’t confirm what the “explosive sound” was, Granger said it sounded like a shot from a handgun. Granger then noted that that too will be investigated
. The Party leader said that from the little he knows, there was a crowd of persons who broke the barrier and tried to force their way into the auditorium…” at that time it seemed as if someone was in danger of being crushed and the shot was fired. I cannot comment further.” Asked why he feels all the problems that characterized the congress was the doing of the PPP, Granger said that the whole-page advertisements and other “statements” suggest that the PPP was interested in seeing an “outcome other than what happened today and we have evidence to indicate such.” Granger said that the PPP has ways and means of doing that. He pointed to Joseph Hamilton who was on the campaign trail with the PNCR in 2006 and said “look at him now,” alluding to the fact that Hamilton is now a member of the PPP.
Addressing Norton’s concerns about the different lists, Granger said that this was as a result of attempts to flood the voters list with persons who were not qualified to vote. That too, Granger said, he has ordered an investigation into. With regards to allegations of abuse from his driver, Granger said that he doesn’t know his driver to be a person to behave in such a manner in calling someone a dog. And of course Granger said he will launch an investigation into that as well. Granger said that at the end of the several investigations, he will share the findings with the media.