Norton insists he remains APNU Chairman, assures of ‘transparent’ PNC elections

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton

Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Aubrey Norton on Friday insisted that he remains Chairman of the Coalition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) – despite being voted out of that position on June 6 at an extraordinary meeting hosted by other coalition parties.

He was absent from the meeting where Leader of the Guyana Action Party (GAP) Vincent Henry was elected as the new Chairman of APNU.

“I continue to be Chairman of the APNU,” Norton told reporters at his party’s press conference.

The other parties in attendance at the meeting where Henry was elected were the National Front Alliance (NFA); the Equal Rights and Justice Party (ERJP); the Guyana Nation Builders (GNB).

Tabitha Sarabo- Halley of GNB was also elected General Secretary of the APNU.

However, the PNCR later released a statement noting that it never received an invitation for the extraordinary meeting but the election was “unauthorised, null and void”, since only that party can initiate such a meeting.

Despite the ongoing tussle, Norton insisted “I think we have a united party but there is a difference between a party and a coalition. A coalition is a combination of parties and they will always have different interests.”

He said after the PNCR’s upcoming Congress, “we will sit with the APNU and sort out the issues.”

Already, Executive Member of the PNCR, who is also contending for the Leader of the party’s post, Roysdale Forde, has flagged irregularities in the nominations exercise. He said the irregularities observed perceive that the entire nomination process is an attempt to bolster the perception of overwhelming support for Norton at the upcoming Congress.

Norton, during his press conference on Friday said there has been “overwhelming” support for him to retain the post as head of the PNCR. He sought to dismiss claims made by Forde’s campaign noting that “there has been no evidence that any group violated the [party’s] constitution.”

He promised that the executive of the party will meet shortly to iron out issues and concerns that exist.

“We will ensure that the party congress has its proper systems in place and in the final process, ensure we have transparent elections,” Norton said.

Asked to outline the measures that the party is taking to ensure fair and credible elections, he refused. Instead, the current party leader said: “That is not a task for me as Leader, that is the task for the accreditation and returning officers and when the time comes, they will do it.”

Others nominated to contest the leadership of the party are former Government Minister Simona Broomes, former Chief-of-Staff Gary Best, Guyana’s Advisor on borders and Agent in the Venezuela border case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Carl Greenidge, MP Amanza Walton- Desir and former Health Minister Volda Lawrence.

Norton said there should be “no character assassination” among the contestants, noting that he maintains a good relationship with the other party members.