PNCR decides Norton must go to Parliament as Opposition Leader
The newly elected Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the People’s National Congress Reform has agreed that its Leader Aubrey Norton must get a seat in the National Assembly and become the country’s Opposition Leader.
Joseph Harmon, who now hopes to be co-opted to the 15-seat Central Executive Committee having lost the leadership elections to Norton, is the current Leader of the Opposition.
Former President David Granger who Norton succeeded to become Leader of the PNC/R is the Representative of the List that will have to take action to ensure that at least one Member of Parliament is called to allow for this major shift.
The CEC also believes that Norton should be Representative of the List.
This is according to Norton who made the disclosure during a press briefing on Friday.
“As I understand it is that the party’s CEC has decided that the Leader of Opposition and Leader of party should be one person,” he told reporters during the virtual briefing.
He said he intends to meet with Harmon to discuss the issue while noting that an approach has been made to engage Granger.
Harmon could not be reached by phone on Friday by Norton said the meeting will take place before next Wednesday.
“The main argument is that it is the convention in the party and it provides for better coordination and control of activities of the party and strategizing to ensure
efficacy,” Norton said.
He explained that historically, the leader of the party and rep of the list is the same person.
There has been no comments on this eventuality from Granger but Harmon has maintained that he will not give up the constitutional post.
With some current opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) also suffering defeat at the internal party elections, Harmon says he does not support calls for a reshuffling of some MPs to allow for members of the new leadership to take up seats in the National Assembly.
The reshuffle will ultimately have to be done by Granger who remains the leader of the Coalition APNU+AFC list submitted to GECOM ahead of the March 2 elections.
There is one condition to Harmon stepping aside; he said it would first need to be established that it has become difficult for the party to confront political opponents with him being Opposition Leader and not holding the position as party leader.
Article 184 (3) of Guyana’s Constitution speaks about the removal of the Leader of the Opposition.
It instructs that the removal of the Opposition Leader is effected when one-third of the non-governmental members of the National Assembly inform the Speaker that the Opposition Leader no longer enjoys their confidence.
The Speaker is expected to call a meeting of all non-governmental members where it shall be decided whether the Opposition Leader shall be removed from office.
That Article further notes that the removal shall be effected by the votes of a majority of all of the non-governmental members.
In response, Harmon said the main Parliamentary Opposition is the APNU+AFC coalition and consists of 31 Members of Parliament.
“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.
“The Office of the Leader of the Opposition is a constitutional office and is consequently governed by the constitution,” Harmon’s office stated.