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PNC cannot arbitrarily change Opposition Leader or APNU+AFC List Rep; procedures must be followed – Ramjattan

https://i2.wp.com/www.inewsguyana.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Khemraj-Ramjattan.jpg?fit=1719%2C1133&ssl=1AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC) Khemraj Ramjattan has argued that the established procedures must be followed before the Leader of the Opposition or Representative of the List of the APNU+AFC Coalition can be changed.

The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the People’s National Congress Reform – the largest party in the APNU+AFC Coalition – wants the newly-elected Leader of the Party, Aubrey Norton, to sit in the National Assembly and hold the post of the country’s Opposition Leader.

That post is currently occupied by APNU’s Joseph Harmon who was appointed by Representative of the List, David Granger, former PNC Leader and former President.

Ramjattan, who is the Deputy Representative of the List, told this publication that these positions cannot be changed willy-nilly and that certain established procedures must be followed and that certain implications must be considered.

In expanding on his point, the AFC Leader made it clear that he is “not taking a side for Norton or Harmon”.

“Leader of the Opposition is appointed at the first meeting of the Parliament by a process that the Constitution of Guyana provides for…not the constitution of the PNC or the AFC or any Cummingsburg Agreement that we might have,” he explained.

Ramjattan indicated that the only way the Leader of the Opposition post can be changed is if Harmon resigns or the parliamentarians successfully table a motion of no-confidence against him.

“Joe has not indicated that he is resigning,” Ramjattan highlighted.

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Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon

“Certain procedures have to be followed before a new Leader of the PNC can become the Opposition Leader. The expression by its National Executive, I respect they would like to see Norton and fine, that is their expressed position on the matter. But it does not follow that once that announcement is made that it necessarily has to be that he becomes Leader of the Opposition, there is a procedure,” the AFC Leader noted.

Similarly, he explained that there are procedures when changing the Representative of the List. “The Constitution provides and the Representative of the People Act, when we sent in the List of our Candidates … GECOM demands that you put who is the List Leader and the Deputy List Leader and we at that point in the 2020 elections… prior to sending in our List of Candidates… we had to also state who is our Leader of the List…”

And according to Ramjattan, as far as his knowledge is concerned, that person remains in that position “until the five year is up or if something happens to him and he cannot function”. But even in that situation, Ramjattan outlined that the Deputy Leader of the List then functions.

“You can’t just, midway of the stream, take away that status and give it to someone else,” he contended.

“I am not taking a side for Granger,” Ramjattan clarified, noting that he is just stating the “legal position”.

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Former PNC Leader David Granger

Moreover, the AFC Leader noted that there are certain implications which can arise if a decision is taken to change these constitutional positions every time the Leader of the PNC, or any other coalition party, changes.

“Assuming that the PNC were to have another election in 2024, every three years they have their National Congress, and there is a new leader…does that mean then that Norton (if he succeeds in becoming Opposition Leader) would have to fall out?” Ramjattan asked.

The coalition parties are expected to meet soon to discuss this matter. Ramjattan admitted that his views on the situation comes across as if he is endorsing a particular personality, but the AFC Leader noted that he only wants the right procedures to be followed.

“It gives the impression that I am supporting Joe but I am not endorsing anybody here…I want to endorse the constitutionalism and rule of law which we must all adhere to, notwithstanding whosoever might be the personalities involved,” he expressed.

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PNC Leader Aubrey Norton

The APNU has since issued a statement noting that “the members of A Partnership for National Unity have had no reason to question the abilities of David Granger and Khemraj Ramjattan as Head and Deputy Head of the list of the APNU/AFC, we have had no reason to question the leadership of Joseph Harmon as Leader of the Opposition and we have had no reasons to question the abilities of any Member of Parliament. While we are yet to meet with the new PNCR Leader Mr Aubrey Norton, we are expecting to have a good working relationship with him as we’ve had with former President David Granger.”

Harmon, who lost his bid for the PNCR leadership to Norton, has since insisted that he should remain Opposition Leader.

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PNC cannot arbitrarily change Opposition Leader or APNU+AFC List Rep; procedures must be followed – Ramjattan

https://i2.wp.com/www.inewsguyana.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Khemraj-Ramjattan.jpg?fit=1719%2C1133&ssl=1AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC) Khemraj Ramjattan has argued that the established procedures must be followed before the Leader of the Opposition or Representative of the List of the APNU+AFC Coalition can be changed.

In expanding on his point, the AFC Leader made it clear that he is “not taking a side for Norton or Harmon”.

“Leader of the Opposition is appointed at the first meeting of the Parliament by a process that the Constitution of Guyana provides for…not the constitution of the PNC or the AFC or any Cummingsburg Agreement that we might have,” he explained.

Leader of the Opposition

184. (1) The Leader of the Opposition shall be elected by and from among the non governmental members of the National Assembly at a meeting held under the chairmanship of the speaker of the national Assembly, who shall not have the right to vote:

(2) The office of the Leader of the Opposition shall become
vacant if—
    (a) the holder thereof ceases to be a member of the Assembly for any cause other than a dissolution of Parliament
    (b) he is not a member of the Assembly when the Assembly first meets after the dissolution of Parliament
   (c) by virtue of article 156(2) or (3) he is required to cease to exercise his functions as a member of the Assembly; or
   (d) his removal from office is effected under the provisions of the next following paragraph.
(3) Where one-third of the non governmental members of the Assembly represent to the Speaker that the Leader of the Opposition no longer enjoys their confidence, the Speaker shall call a meeting of all the non governmental members at which it shall be decided whether the Leader of the Opposition shall be removed from office; the removal shall be effected by the votes of a majority of all the non governmental members.
(4) The election and removal from office of the Leader of the Opposition shall be by a show of hands.
(5) For every reference in any provision in this Constitution to the term “Minority Leader” there shall be substituted the term “Leader of the Opposition” and any such provision shall be read and construed accordingly with such modification as may be necessary.

Source -- Guyana Constitution -- Section 184 -- https://www.oas.org/juridico/s...guy_constitution.pdf

PNCR decides Norton must be Opposition Leader, Representative of the List

Last Updated on Friday, 7 January 2022, 12:44 by Denis Chabrol

FLASH BACK: President David Granger is given a tour of the Madewini Training Centre by Presidential Advisor on Youth Empowerment, Mr. Aubrey Norton

Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton on Friday said his party has decided that he should enter the National Assembly as Opposition Leader, and that he should also be the Representative of the List.

The party Central Executive has decided that the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the party should be one person and that I will meet with the Leader of the Opposition to discuss this issue shortly,” he told a news conference one day after the PNCR’s Central Executive Committee first meeting. The PNCR Leader said, “I know have the competence to go into the National Assembly.”

Mr. Norton said he and Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon would be meeting before next week Wednesday.

For his part, Mr. Harmon has already said that he represents more than 218,000 persons who have voted for the coalition rather than just over 1,000 persons who had voted at the PNCR’s recent internal elections.

Then President David Granger and Joseph Harmon. (Demerara Waves picture)

The PNCR Leader said that the Central Executive Committee also decided that he should be the Representative of the List of candidates for A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC). “One of the arguments that they made is that it has been the convention in the party and the second argument is that it provides for better coordination to control the activities of the party and for better strategising to ensure efficacy,” he said.

Mr. Norton said that historically, the PNCR Leader is the Representative of the List but he acknowledged that with the advent of the coalition “there were some compromises that occurred and there are cases where it wasn’t the case.” For the 2020 general and regional elections, then PNCR Leader David Granger had been also the Representative of the List, marking a return to the convention.

The PNCR Leader declined to say whether he was on solid legal grounds that he party leader and the Representative of the List should be one person. “I do not know that in a political party your first line of action is legality and so I don’t need to speculate on that,” he said, adding that he expected the membership to  do “what is in the best interest” of the PNCR.

The major opposition contested the general and regional elections as APNU+AFC  with Mr. Granger as the Representative of the List. Mr. Granger is APNU Chairman and Mr. Harmon is its General Secretary.

AFC backs harmon, PNC/R wants norton

…as AFC backs Harmon, PNC/R wants Norton

Jan 09, 2022 News -- Source -- Kaieteur News Online -- https://www.kaieteurnewsonline...rship-in-parliament/

Kaieteur News – The coalition, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), which currently has as its substantive Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon, is split on the way forward as it relates to replacing that Constitutional Office holder, with newly elected Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R), Aubrey Norton.

This position unfolded, following Norton’s announcement that the PNC/R’s Central Executive Committee (CEC)—the party’s highest internal decision making body—had concluded that he be positioned as a sitting Member of Parliament of the PNC/R, replacing Harmon as Opposition Leader.

Substantive Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon

Harmon lost to Norton who secured the party’s Leadership from David Granger in a landslide victory during the PNC/R’s recently concluded Biennial Congress. A leadership contest that also included Dr. Richard Van West Charles.

According to the party’s official elections results 1,209 of the 3,000 delegates that were registered to vote, gave Harmon 245 and Norton 900. Dr. Van West Charles secured only 64 votes.

This led to the decision being taken by the PNC/R’s CEC—since announced by Norton—but has since been met with pushback, with AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan publicly declaring that the nine seats in Parliament for which his party controls are in support of Harmon remaining Opposition Leader.

Ramjattan is quoted in another section of the media confirming this much saying, “my nine members of parliament have confidence in Harmon at this stage; he has done nothing that we shouldn’t have confidence in him.”

The AFC, one faction of the APNU+AFC Parliamentary opposition, had initially voted in support of Harmon for the position after a new session of Guyana’s Parliament was declared open by President Irfaan Ali in 2020.

According to the AFC Leader, his position is that “whatever the law is and constitutional regime is, I am living the rule of law and the rule of the constitution. If the constitution leads to prescription I am asking for adherence to the prescription.”

Newly elected Leader of the PNC/R, Aubrey Norton

The news report contended Ramjattan’s position as, “unless Mr. Harmon wants to resign or just cause is shown why he should be replaced by way of a constitutionally provided no-confidence motion, there is no good reason to call for his removal and he should remain as Opposition Leader for the next five years.”

It should be noted too that despite Norton’s pronouncement that, “The Party Central Executive (Committee) has decided that the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Party should be one person… it is not that it is I who believe that, it is the Central Executive that met, discussed it and arrived at that conclusion.” This is purportedly being met with pushback from some sections of the party.

AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan

Harmon in an official statement to the media on Friday reminded that, “the main Parliamentary Opposition is the APNU+AFC coalition and consists of 31 Members of Parliament.”

To this end, he reminded that, “the APNU Partnership has an established structure and if the executive of a party in the partnership has a position and they wish to express that position, they should follow the established procedures.”

Harmon used the occasion to remind publicly that, “the Office of the Leader of the Opposition is a constitutional office and is consequently governed by the constitution.”

This, in addition to an unsigned statement released to the media yesterday purportedly from “Members” reminding that “in 2011 at the birth of the APNU a collective decision was made as to who would be head of the list. In 2015 a collective decision was made as to who would be head of the list when the Alliance for Change coalesced with APNU.”
In 2020, the APNU+AFC agreed that the head and the deputy head of the list would be David Granger and Khemraj Ramjattan respectively.

The unsigned PNC/R members’ statement released by an R. Critchlow posits, “the members of APNU have had no reason to question the abilities of David Granger and Khemraj Ramjattan as Head and Deputy Head of the list of the APNU+AFC. We have had no reason to question the leadership of Joseph Harmon as Leader of the Opposition and we have had no reasons to question the abilities of any Member of Parliament.”

Norton in espousing the PNC/R’s position on Friday explained that one of the arguments made by the PNC/R’s Central Executive is that it has been the convention with the second argument being “that it provides for better coordination and control of the activities of the Party and for better strategising to ensure efficacy.”

AFC backs harmon, PNC/R wants norton

…as AFC backs Harmon, PNC/R wants Norton

Jan 09, 2022 News -- Source -- Kaieteur News Online -- https://www.kaieteurnewsonline...rship-in-parliament/

Kaieteur News –

According to the party’s official elections results 1,209 of the 3,000 delegates that were registered to vote, gave Harmon 245 and Norton 900. Dr. Van West Charles secured only 64 votes.

Norton received 30% support of the eligible delegates.

When Norton becomes a Member of the Legislature; then indeed the process could begin for him to become the Leader of the Opposition.

Thus far Norton is simply the leader of a political organization; similar to the leaders in other countries with the position he now holds; with no seat in the legislature.

30% voted for Norton.

70% voted against Norton.

Hence, the large majority of the PNCR are against Norton.

@Mitwah posted:

Dufus, you conveniently left out that about 92% were against Harmon.

Eh-eh Choobaloops/Babbaloops ...

My comments are about Norton not Harmon.

Norton, Harmon for more talks on status of Opposition Leader

in News, Politics Tuesday, 11 January 2022, 21:11 0 Comments -- Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 January 2022, 21:11 by Denis Chabrol -- Source -- https://demerarawaves.com/2022...f-opposition-leader/

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.

Norton, Harmon for more talks on status of Opposition Leader

in News, Politics Tuesday, 11 January 2022, 21:11 0 Comments -- Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 January 2022, 21:11 by Denis Chabrol -- Source -- https://demerarawaves.com/2022...f-opposition-leader/

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.

Perhaps, the focus of the discussions is ...

Norton --  Ow Harmon, ahh beg yuh, leh mee bee dee Leadah.

Harmon -- Man Norton, rest yuhself nah.

Last edited by Demerara_Guy

Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Aubrey Norton on Friday skirted questions about efforts for him to take over the post of Opposition Leader from incumbent Joseph Harmon, only saying that he did not want to prejudice “negotiations”.

Asked whether he was optimistic that the PNCR’s Central Executive Committee’s decision that he should become Opposition Leader would be realised, Mr. Norton he said , “you can try as much to force an answer but the reality is negotiations, when they are occurring, should occur in a particular environment  and I don’t want to spoil that environment.

The PNCR Leader said he and the Opposition Leader had “exceptionally well” talks and they agreed that it is an “internal matter” and after the decisions would be made known at the end of the discussions.  Mr. Norton expected the another round of talks with Mr. Harmon “extremely early”.

Pressed on whether he believed that there was a safe process outside of Mr. Harmon resigning from the post of Opposition Leader and he succeeding him before the next general elections, he again opted not to delve into the details.

The PNCR Leader declined to say whether or not the fact that he is not Opposition Leader would constrain him in profiling and advancing  his work.  “It’s not an issue I would discuss in the public domain,” he said. He said the party’s work was ongoing at the right pace. “I don’t know what you are asking me to agree to. I think I have been elected by the People’s National Congress Reform. They’re comfortable with the work I’m doing. I would continue to do the work. I’d be guided by the party leadership as we proceed into the future,” he said.

The Opposition Leader’s Office last week stated that A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has a structure through which decisions by parties in the partnership should be discussed.

No parliamentarian could be recalled or replaced without the involvement of the Representative of the List of Candidates for APNU+AFC, David Granger. That is also a position that the PNCR wants Mr. Norton to assume, but he on Friday also declined to discuss that on the grounds that it is also an internal matter.

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