Corbin set for top PNCR post but Ricknauth challenging
February 1, 2003
The Special Delegates Congress of the PNCR being convened today is expected to elect Robert Corbin as its new leader but he will first have to face a challenge from fellow executive member Artie Ricknauth.
The Special Congress at the PNCR's headquarters is only the second time in recent memory the party is meeting in special conclave.
The only other occasion was on December 14, 1974. At that Congress the party formally declared itself a socialist party and adopted the Declaration of Sophia. The Declaration of Sophia inspired the positions of the PNC and the government it led until late PNCR leader Desmond Hoyte changed its direction to embrace the free market system while serving as President between 1985-1992.
In the contest for the leadership, there were four other nominations besides that for the party's chairman, attorney-at-law, Corbin. Corbin as chairman of the party has been discharging the functions of Leader, since Hoyte died on December 22, in accordance with the party's constitution. The constitution provides for Corbin to call a meeting of the general council to elect an interim leader to carry on until the next party congress. However, the party's central executive felt it necessary to convene the congress to not only elect a new leader but to mobilise the party members and supporters and to set the new direction of the party.
Three of those nominated for leader by the groups have since withdrawn following the close of nominations on January 29. The sole challenger is Ricknauth, who was elected to the party's central executive committee at its Congress in August 2002. He is also a former executive member of the National Youth and Students' Movement.
Ricknauth assured Stabroek News yesterday that he is contesting the post because he believes that he could make a difference and could ensure that the PNCR has the reins of government come the next elections.
Ricknauth said that the PNCR needs an infusion of new blood so as to help this country leapfrog into the future and he believes that he could be effective in helping to make that change. He contended that there is tremendous disaffection with the PPP government and the PNCR has to provide that hope and salvation, which it could under his leadership.
Asked if Corbin could not provide that leadership, Ricknauth said he is saying that Corbin can't but he knows that he could.
He observed that Corbin is a tremendous asset to the PNCR as a person who is appreciative of politics and who knows the party machinery and who could keep it mobilised. Asked if Corbin could not do that job better as leader of the party, Ricknauth reiterated that his main focus is convincing the delegates that he could do the job.
About the Ricknauth challenge, observers close to the party told Stabroek News that it is indicative of the inner democracy of the party and the opportunities that exist for all groups and interests in the party to play an active role in shaping the direction and policies of the party.
Other business to be conducted at today's meeting include a discussion of a report from the committees which had been set up to implement the decisions taken at the congress last August. Those decisions included the development of a position on shared governance which Hoyte had described as an idea whose time had come and the development of a business enterprise to better fund the party's welfare activities.