Trouble in PNC/R camp? Brian Smith exits; Simona Broomes may start new party

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By Kurt Campbell

The People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R), the largest party in the APNU+AFC Coalition, was on Friday grappling with more youth withdrawals.

While party member, Simona Broomes, dodged the question, another youth member, Brian Smith has confirmed to the News Room that he chose not to renew his membership to the party.

Broomes, on the other hand, when contacted by the News Room, said she did not resign, but was clearly surprised when asked about reports that she is contemplating forming her own political party.

She did not rule this out but said she will wait on the “lord” to guide her decision.

“If I’m considering my own political party?

“Well I ain’t considering nothing yet and I ain’t ruling nothing out… I am a Christian person and I will wait upon the lord,” Broomes told the News Room on Friday during a telephone interview.

Smith, on the other hand, explained that while he has not resigned from the party he has taken a decision not to renew his membership – a decision that can essentially be interpreted as his exit from the party and politics altogether.

Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform and former President of Guyana Brigadier (rt’d) David Granger

General Secretary of the PNC/R, Amna Ally, was initially contacted by the News Room to confirm the exit of the officials, but she refused to comment and also turned down the opportunity to clarify whether Broomes was also planning to start her own political party once she breaks away from the PNC/R.

“I don’t discuss my party business in the media so ask Simona Broomes if you want,” Ally told the News Room via the telephone.

Smith, who has noticeably taken a backseat in party matters in recent years, said that his membership came to an end in 2020 and he is determined to not renew it.

“The Constitution of the party is clear and how you participate in anything is by membership. You need to have a valid membership because if you don’t have membership you don’t have a vote. You don’t get to exercise any influence over the process,” Smith said.

Asked about his reason for leaving the party after some 15 years of service, a chuckling Smith said he isn’t prepared to be burdened by the inheritance of older fights.

“Fights of older people… it’s a new era, a new time and while I don’t discount the efforts of those who have come before, I thank them for their service but I believe it is time for us to chart a new course, a new direction,” the former youth leader lamented.

Smith said he had earnestly believed that being a member of the party would afford him the platform to advance the interest and agenda of young people but that never materialised. He criticised backward thinking and delayed advancement in several areas.

“I think there is need for a new direction and I think young people are at that level of consciousness. You argue that we don’t know what happened before and we give you the time to tell us what happened. Now that you have given us that historical lesson, allow us to tell you what we want for the future…

“And I don’t believe there is space for us to do that in this construct and as such, I encourage all young people to chart your own course… there comes a time when you must decide for yourself what you want to do,” Smith added.

Although still passionate about national development, Smith said he will not be creating or joining any new or existing political parties but stands ready, as a professional, to serve Guyana in the advancement of its development.

Smith did not restate any support for former President, David Granger whose leadership has come up against a bombardment of criticism before and after his defeat at the March 2020 elections after just five years in government.

“I support Guyana’s development and believe that Guyana has to move forward and the current construct of things as they exist at Congress Place do not bode well for Guyana moving forward… I do not believe the PNC right now reflects a progressive outlook for Guyana and this has been a problem for some time.

“I have asked for young people to be involved in the process, to know about things – not things happening and then young people are expected to defend it – that’s ludicrous. You have departments where young people don’t get to function and get on-hand experience and everything remains with people who were there before and to me that is an untenable place,” he said.

Thandi McAllister

Smith criticised what he said was a top-down approach, where young people are seen as unequal.

“… you look left, you look right everybody is a pensioner… there is not a blend of old principles and new ideas, that doesn’t exist… young people have been the grass for some time and they suffered while the older people there and their historical fights have continued,” he added.

Other youth members of the party have notably taken a step back from the frontlines of the political fight.

Last week, attorney Thandi McAllister withdrew her membership from the PNC/R, a party where she served for more than 25 years.

She maintained that her upset is with the party’s current leadership where Granger sits at the helm.

“I believe the former President has served his time. Perhaps, he has served well when it was most needed but he provided a catalyst for change and I earnestly believe that change should have taken place for quite a while,” McAllister told the News Room during an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

She too encouraged young people to chart their own course.

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