‘I was in the trenches’- Van West Charles knocks Norton, Forde for ‘Johnny come lately’ statement
As the race to become the next leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) heats up, Richard Van West Charles is holding his ground as a contender for the top post, but cautions his fellow party members against treating other candidates as enemies.
He was particularly concerned about a ‘Johnny come lately statement’ made by fellow candidates for party leader, Aubrey Norton and Roysdale Forde.
Forde has since thrown his support behind Joseph Harmon, who currently holds the position of Opposition Leader.
“They obviously don’t know me. I just heard it recently with Aubrey and Roysdale and it is an unfortunate statement…it runs counter to the value system of the party,” he said.
In calling for a clean campaign, Dr. Van West Charles also knocked Forde for his statements which seem to suggest that Norton is a racist.
“If Roysdale felt Aubrey is a racist then it has to be something grounded in evidence and there is a system in the party to deal with that.
“Those things should not happen and I hope in going forward in the campaign we go high and not low,” he added.
In a short interview on MAAD 97.5FM on Monday, Dr. Van West Charles was keen to remind the listening public that he is the son-in-law of the founder leader, L.F.S Burnham and said he had been a member of the party since he was a boy.
“I’ve been around in all areas… as a young politician I was in the trenches and took over from my father-in-law, selling New Nation [a party news bulletin] in the market,” he reminded.
As a medical doctor, who previously served as Minister of Health and held several other high-ranking positions in government, he boasts of having the experience necessary to conduct the re-engineering that the PNC/R requires at this juncture.
But doing that requires that he secures the top post of leader.
Although Dr. Van West Charles holds himself out to be a team player, he also took time to respond to other comments, some that attacked his loyalty to the party. It was Forde, who, in endorsing Harmon for the top post, has criticised members who walked away from the party and now return to vie for leadership positions.
According to Dr. Van West Charles, he studied extensively abroad, but owned up to the fact that he had left the PNC/R to join the Alliance for Change. It should be noted that the PNC/R, which is the largest party in the APNU coalition, had teamed up with the AFC to win the 2015 elections and now remains a coalition in opposition after losing the 2020 polls.
“Some will say I left and went to AFC, but that was a short sojourn. I have always been rooted in the PNC,” he said.
According to Van West Charles, coalition politics is the best way to move forward. In re-organising the party, he intends to listen to the harsh views of members.
He also dismissed the notion that the PNC/R is a black people party.
“We cannot focus on a singular ethnicity…under my leadership that is a priority to be addressed.”