Aubrey Norton challenges Granger for PNC leadership

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People’s National Congress (PNC) Aubrey Norton has announced that he would challenge David Granger for leadership of the party.

Granger, the current leader, is increasingly coming under pressure and has faced many criticisms for the current state the party.

Norton, who was among those defending the rigging attempts for five months during the 2020 National and Regional elections as the PNC elections agent, made the announcement while making an appearance on an online programme hosted by Working People’s Alliance (WPA) executive Dr David Hinds.

Hinds was a candidate on the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) list at the last elections.

When asked by the about the party’s leadership, Norton expressed the belief that he is fit to be leader.

“I believe I have the requisite skills to give leadership, I have said to people I believe that even while we serve in government I cannot be accused of corruption or anything of that kind and I believe that I am one among the viable candidates. The direct answer to that is once the congress of the People’s National Congress reform is called, I intend to run for the leadership of the party,” Norton said.

According to Norton, who challenged for leadership of the party and lost to Granger in 2014, there is a need for a new political culture.

He was of the view that he could usher in this new political culture.

“What I can say is that the era of absolute leaders, maximum leaders that era is clearly gone and what we need is a new political culture in which leaders see themselves as first among equals and to shift and to move away from this culture of maximum leader…. who could you talk to when one man determines everything,” he said.

“I think this process of democratization should bring a new type of leader that is disposed to listening to its base and acting in keeping with the ideas that emerge from the various approaches and discussions which are taken by all the political party within the coalition,” Norton added.

Only recently, Congress Place was picketed by members of Granger’s own party who demanded that he hold the congress so that the party could choose a leader. One placard, aimed at Granger and Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon, had read “David and Joe, stop denying democracy in the PNC. Time for congress”.

PNC’s last biennial congress was in 2018, where Granger was returned unopposed as leader of the party. According to a PNC diaspora group, the time has come for younger and more progressive leaders to be elected to lead the party.

However, Granger has cited the COVID-19 pandemic for the delay in holding the congress.

He had said that the party is trying to work out the logistics of holding the congress, while at the same time ensuring social distancing.

However, many other organizations have held virtual meetings using Zoom, which allows hundreds of participants.

Granger, who left office in August of last year after a five-month long election process, has been facing pressure from within the party over the loss of the General and Regional elections after just one term in office.

These divisions were exacerbated by the list of parliamentarians he picked to send to the 12th Parliament, after party stalwarts like Volda Lawrence were excluded.

The WPA had withdrew from the APNU coalition, following on the heels of the Justice For All Party (JFAP).

Former Parliamentarian James Bond had labelled Granger’s leadership as “ineffective” and “mediocre”.