Corbin returned as PNCR leader - reiterates call for break with past
Guyana Chronicle
August 31, 2004

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THE main opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) has re-elected Mr Robert Corbin as leader of the party.

A party press release said Corbin was returned unopposed at its weekend 14th Biennial Congress as there was no other nomination for the position.

Mr Winston Murray also ran unopposed for the chairmanship of the party as other contestants declined nomination, the release said. It said the PNCR Constitution was amended to increase the number of vice-chairpersons from one to two, and delegates elected attorneys-at-law Mr Basil Williams and Ms Deborah Backer to fill the two positions.

In his charge to congress delegates, Corbin announced several other appointments.

These included Mr Vincent Alexander as head of the party’s election committee and special adviser to the leader on election matters; Mr Stanley Ming as Director of Economic Ventures; Ms Supriya Singh as Director of Public Communications; Mr Raphael Trotman as Director of Legal Affairs; Mr Deryck Bernard as Director of Policy Development and Mr George Norton as director of Hinterland Affairs.

Ms Cheryl Sampson was re-elected as the Chairperson of the party’s women’s arm, the National Congress of Women (NCW), while Ms Doreen Duncan and Ms Volda Lawrence were elected as first and second vice-chairpersons, respectively, the release said.

The youth arm of the party, the Guyana Youth and Students Movement (GYSM) also held its elections and Ms Chiaza James was elected chairperson along with 13 members of the executive council.

At the end of congress rally at the 1763 Monument Square in Georgetown Sunday night, Corbin reiterated his call for a break with the past.

He said the congress had agreed that Guyanese politicians should close the pages of political history and look towards the dawn of a new age.

He urged that before that was done, however, Guyana’s historical figures, from both the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) and the PNCR, needed to be put into proper perspective.

“Let us pay tribute,” said Corbin, “to Burnham…to Cheddi Jagan; to Ptolemy Reid; to Ram Karran. Let us make statues of them.”

He said PPP/C’s referrals to the PNCR’s 28 years in power should not be relevant to the agenda for development today. Should the PNCR accede to power, it would not waste time on condemning the tenure of the PPP/C, he said.

Corbin also told supporters that the current system of government was outmoded. He quoted the National Development Strategy Paper as recommending that the Westminster system of government be changed.

According the Opposition Leader, the President and the governing party cannot be unaware of the recommendations of the paper, since it was President Bharrat Jagdeo who had oversight responsibilities for it, while he was still Finance Minister.

Commenting on the congress itself, Corbin said that the number of delegates and the wide geographic representation that was there, was proof that the PNCR was still “a mighty force throughout the length and breadth of Guyana.”

Delegates went to the congress from areas as far apart as the Pomeroon and the Rupununi. He said there were also overseas delegates from Miami, Toronto, Washington, New Jersey and New York City.

Corbin said the congress was a success in that it provided an opportunity to review the progress of the PNCR, both against the backdrop of what was going on in the country, and from an internal perspective.

“The PNCR,” he said, “has progressed through our outreach programmes; through our campaign against extra-judicial killings; our campaign against death squads; our selective non-participation in Parliament; our campaign against poor governance; against discrimination and arbitrary allocation of scarce resources by the administration.”

Also speaking at the rally, Mr Murray acknowledged the delegates’ choosing him as Party Chairman and offered them his “undiluted thanks.”

He promised to work with all the energy he has to function in his role and pledged his unstinting support of Corbin.