Granger, who has been heavily criticised by party, calls for internal division to be suppressed
The outgoing leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) David Granger, who has become increasingly unpopular within his party over the past few months, has called for a suppression of division within the party.
The PNC/R’s 21st Biennial Congress opened on Saturday morning. Up until 19:00 hrs, delegates across Guyana and the diaspora will cast their votes for new party leaders. Granger, who did not manage to secure a single nomination, will be replaced.
For the position of Leader, the main contenders are seen as party executives Joseph Harmon, Aubrey Norton and Dr. Richard Van West-Charles. Volda Lawrence, the current chairperson; Carl Greenidge, Basil Williams and Sharma Solomon were also nominated.
In his final address to the party, Granger berated party members who had contributed to the division within one of Guyana’s oldest political parties.
The outgoing leader, who served as President of Guyana, singled out former party members who “wounded the mother party” by revolting against the PNC and forming new political parties.
Those members include Jai Narine Singh, the PNC’s first General Secretary; Sidney King (who later renamed himself Eusi Kwayana) and Hamilton Green, other General Secretaries; and, Raphael Trotman, an elected Member of Parliament.
Further, he lamented that divisions have been caused by personal rivalries and by people who placed themselves over the paramountcy of the party.
Drawing from the party’s founder Forbes Burnham and another former leader Desmond Hoyte, Granger said that change was inevitable. But, he said that the change needed by the PNC/R is one that allows the party to unite.
“The Party can achieve much by changing its political culture by suppressing schisms and factionalism for the common good,” Granger said pointedly.
And, he urged the delegates to recognise that this Congress should teach them all that the party’s past rifts should be overcome and delegates should work together to increase the PNC/R’s membership.
In doing so, he reasoned that public trust in the PNC/R will be promoted.
Granger’s address was pre-recorded as he is reportedly seeking treatment in Cuba for a long standing medical condition. The address was not played during the publicly available opening ceremony but instead, to delegates participating virtually.
Over the past several months, at least four members walked away from the PNC/R citing dictatorial leadership among other issues under the David Granger-led party.
Some of those who resigned include attorney Thandi McAllister, who served the party for more than 25 years; Brian Smith, Lennox Gasper, Shawn Hopkinson and Basil Blackman.
In light of the seemingly fractured nature of the PNC/R which was part of a coalition that lost the last General and Regional elections, the new contenders for Granger’s position called for unity in the lead up to Congress.
At his campaign launch, Harmon said if elected, he intends to heal the haemorrhaging the party is experiencing. In fact, he said this would be his first plan of action.
Van-West Charles has opted not to create a slate of candidates for the Party’s top spots, stating that doing so creates factionalism. And, Norton has insisted that he will be an inclusive leader, stating that even the unpopular Granger can be part of an ‘Elders’ Council’.