Norton to still contest for PNC Leader as party ‘elders’ probe allegations of sexual assault threats

Hamilton Green and two other members of the PNC’s Council of Elders, along with National Congress of Women’s Chair, Volda Lawrence, and another representative at Friday’s press conference

A group of senior Executives of the People’s National Congress (PNC) has been called in to probe the sexual harassment threat allegation made against incumbent party leader Aubrey Norton by another party stalwart, Vanessa Kissoon.

Earlier this week, Kissoon, a former PNC Member of Parliament for Region 10, confirmed in a video recording on social media that Norton had threatened to rape her at gunpoint while they were in his vehicle – a claim which the Opposition Leader has denied.

However, while no formal report has been made to the party or the police, given the serious nature of the allegations, the PNC’s Council of Elders will be probing the claims with the aim of seeking the truth and giving guidance on the way forward.

The allegation against Norton surfaced on the heels of the PNC’s 22nd Biennial Delegates Congress which will get underway on Friday, during which Norton is expected to contest for re-election to the leadership post. From all indications, no decision has been taken for Norton to step aside from the leadership race amid the allegations.

In fact, Volda Lawrence, Chair of the National Congress of Women, the PNC’s women’s arm which along with the youth arm called in the elders, told reporters at a press conference on Friday that they have no control over the business of the upcoming congress.

“The Elders have been asked to investigate and make recommendations on the particular issues regarding Mr Norton and Ms Vanessa Kissoon. This has nothing to do with Congress. There is a Congress Committee, there is a leadership in place; and so they will still continue with their work, as they are required to do by constitution,” Lawrence said.

Moreover, PNC Executive Hamilton Green, one of the party’s Elders, when questioned about Norton being asked to step down from the leadership post, would only say that the Council of Elders is concerned about the involvement of two senior party members, hence their role in probing the matter.

According to Green, while they are keen on delivering a “swift, impartial and proper” inquiry, they are also cognizant of the circumstances in which the allegation has surfaced; that is, leading up to the party’s congress, when Norton is being challenged for the leadership post by Parliamentarians Roysdale Forde, S.C., and Amanza Walton-Desir, both of whom have already called for a thorough investigation into the serious claims being made against the Opposition Leader.

Based on reports, other PNC Executives were also nominated for the leadership position, but declined the nomination.

In fact, given the serious nature of the allegation and the implications therefrom, coupled with the parties involved – that is, the leader and a senior party member – Green has assured that everything that can be done would be done to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion.

However, while he has promised to have provisions made to expedite the probe, it is highly improbable that this would be done before next weekend’s Delegates Congress.

“It is unlikely to assemble the logistics before Congress to deal with this matter… The Council of Elders are elders… and therefore may not operate with alacrity of a 20-year-old… From what I have heard, there are two divergent stories, and I don’t know that that can be settled quickly,” Green said.

The longstanding PNC member went on to dismiss assertions that the probe is a “face-saving” exercise by saying, “…you ought not compromise the procedures for justice and equity at a speed convenient or that would coincide with an event that takes place just over a week after. We understand the need for some conclusion, but…we won’t rush to judge without a thorough investigation.”

On this note, Green has pleaded with party members to steer clear of assumptions.

Meanwhile, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) coalition, of which the PNC is the largest party and had recently been booted from the Chairmanship post, has warned that the failure to address the serious sexual harassment allegations could adversely affect the Opposition’s performance at the upcoming 2025 polls.