Having from booted from the Central Executive Committee of the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNC/R) and losing the race for leader of the party, Joseph Harmon says depending on the future the circumstances, he is willing to consider stepping aside as Opposition Leader to allow the newly-elected PNC Leader Aubrey Norton to take the position.
Following the APNU+AFC’s loss at the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, Harmon was elected as Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition which comprises of the APNU+AFC coalition which holds majority of the opposition seats while one of the opposition seats is occupied by a joinder of three smaller parties.
Harmon was in the race to be elected as leader of the PNC – the largest party in the APNU – but he lost to Norton, who won by a landslide victory over his competitors which also included Dr Richard Van West Charles.
Harmon was also not re-elected to the PNC’s CEC – which is the highest decision-making body of the party.
In light of these circumstances, Harmon was asked by reporters today whether he would step aside as Opposition Leader since he is not privy to decisions being made at the PNC’s CEC and since he did not win the majority support of party members.
While initially responding in the negative, Harmon added that “if, in fact, my sitting there makes it difficult for the Members of Parliament (MPs) to be able to challenge the PPP and to confront them at every level, then certainly I will consider it.”
However, he explained that while he is not a member of the PNC’s CEC, there are other parliamentarians who sit on that Committee and can relay the necessary information to him. Harmon highlighted that the APNU+AFC’s Chief Whip Christopher Jones is on the CEC and would be the right person to take up such a task.
“I do not see a problem with respect to the information which comes from the party which will inform the decisions made at the level of parliament,” Harmon explained.
“I’m a member of the PNC/R and I will remain that,” he contended.
“The Constitution provides for the position of the Leader of the Opposition and there is a process by which any change of that position will take place and that is a constitutional process,” Harmon further explained.
He contended that the PNC’s internal election does not change the arrangement in parliament. He also contended that as Leader of the Opposition, he is a representative of over 218,000 persons who voted at the national elections whereas Norton is a representative of just PNC members.
“The mandate of the leader of the PNC is separate mandate altogether. I believe that the two positions, that we should work together very closely,” Harmon posited.
He further noted that Members of Parliament cannot be recalled willy-nilly and this is not something he would support unless there is reasonable basis.
“There is a constitutional process which also involves the Representative of the List and a recommendation to the National Assembly,” Harmon expressed, noting that from his standpoint, the current batch of Opposition Parliamentarians are “performing well”.
The APNU was embroiled in much internal conflict after certain top members were not included on the list of parliamentarians including Volda Lawrence and Amna Ally.