Harmon, Norton and Van West-Charles confident of becoming next PNC/R Leader


By Kurt Campbell


Confidence and poise were high among the three contenders for the top post of Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) when the party held a public nomination exercise on Friday at its Congress Place, Sophia Headquarters ahead of a Congress set for December.

All promising to bridge the current divide in the PNC/R and expand the party’s membership with a vision premised on diversity, party executives Joseph Harmon, Aubrey Norton and Dr. Richard Van West-Charles were all sure of becoming the next leader.

“I feel extremely confident that the team which I have put together will triumph in these elections and after that, we have to work on bringing our party together,” Harmon said.

But the man with the biggest showing at the nomination exercise was Norton who also said that he has secured some 80 per cent of the nominations coming from groups across the country.

Carol Joseph and other party members from Region Five present nominations.

Harmon, with a more humbled demeanor, said the number of nominations was in no way a determining factor for who would become the next leader; that will be decided when the delegates vote in December.

The hopefuls for party leader all talked up their experience in party politics and professional work but as Harmon sees it, he should be the next Leader because he already holds the constitutional position of Opposition Leader.

Norton does not challenge his reasoning that the Party Leader must also be Opposition Leader but said if that is the case, then he is also in line to become Opposition Leader.

Harmon has already said that even if he does not win, he will not give up the position of Opposition Leader but will work with the next leader at the party level.

Norton has said that his advantage is that he connects with the grassroots; he poured cold water on claims that he was radical and not fit to lead the PNC/R.

“I have always been connected with our party base. I know more party comrades at a personal level,” he said assuring that he is both firm and flexible.

Both Norton and Harmon have already made public a slate of persons they support and intend to work with in leadership if they are elected party leader. Harmon has tipped Ganesh Mahipaul to be the next General Secretary but Norton said while he has already identified that person he is not ready to go public.

Joseph Harmona nd Aubrey Norton share a light moment at Congress Place

As Van West-Charles sees it, putting together a slate breeds factionalism, something he doesn’t subscribe to. He has denied that his support is too small for him to compile a slate.

“When I put up a slate I’m sending a message that I’m separating these set of people from those… I believe slates are in many ways the genesis of factions. I don’t subscribe to it,” he told reporters at Congress Place.

The ultimate objective of all three men is to get the 64-year-old PNC/R back in government and they all believe it can be accomplished through coalition politics. The Leader of the PNC/R automatically assumes the leadership role for the current APNU+AFC Coalition where the PNC/R has the largest representation.

They all have varying plans for accomplishing this. The News Room understands that Party Executive Basil Williams has secured at least one nomination for party leader.

The current leader David Granger is not running and may not have secured any nominations.

Groups are expected to submit their nominations for Chairman, Vice Chairs, Treasurer and 15 Executives to their respective Regional and District Secretaries.

The nominations are being submitted to an accreditation committee that is co-chaired by Ganesh Mahipaul and Mortimer Mingo.

Ganesh Mahipaul and Mortimor Mingo

That committee will have to first verify that the groups making the nominations are in good standing and their delegates (one delegate for every 10 financial members) are rightfully accounted for.

Those persons who were nominated will now have to be written to officially by the committee and will have an opportunity to accept or decline the nominations after which a preliminary list will be prepared and circulated.

Delegates will vote for their candidates when the congress is held on December 11, 2021.

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