The health of internal democracy within the PNCR will be known in August
Peeping Tom
Kaieteur News
May 2, 2007

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I see absolutely no conflict with Vincent Alexander being the PNCR's representative on the committee dealing with local government reform and his, Alexander's, appointment as a member of the Guyana Elections Commission.

I am, in fact, surprised that only now that Alexander has signalled his intention to contest the leadership of his party that this perceived conflict is being made into an issue. It ought not.

I can think of no situation where Alexander's roles in both of these bodies will conflict. In fact, whenever the reform is completed, the Guyana Elections Commission will be under the obligation of ensuring that the actions of the Commission, in so far as elections preparations are concerned, are in keeping with the amended law.

There is yet to be any convincing argument as to how the two roles will clash. I do not see them clashing because local government reform is a political process involving the two main political parties. The agreements reached here would have to be concretised in law and then passed in the National Assembly. Once they have been passed, it is the duty of GECOM to ensure that the management of local government elections is in keeping with the law. Where, therefore, is there likely to be conflict between Alexander's role as a member of the local government reform team and his role as a member of the Guyana Elections Commission?

I would support strongly the retention of Alexander as his party's representative on local government reform for a number of reasons. He is by far the best suited person on this issue, having firstly made it an area of personal study and, secondly, by his considerable experience as his party's point person on local government matters. There is, I believe, no one within the PNCR who is more knowledgeable about local government matters than Vincent Alexander.

I also think that it would be detrimental to the party's interest to have him replaced at this time because it would disrupt the work of local government reform, which is fast approaching the time when it should be concluded.

The Peeper therefore hopes that Vincent's continued engagement in local government reform and as a member of the Guyana Elections Commission will not be disrupted now that he has signalled that he intends to throw his hat into the leadership contest of his party.

It will make the PNCR look ridiculous if, after having furnished his nomination as a member of the Guyana Elections Commission, it now finds this role to be in conflict with his role as a member of the local government reform team. And it will raise concerns as to why this has happened just around the time when he and others have indicated their intention to canvass party groups to support a challenge to the leadership of the PNCR.

If the PNCR is truly committed to internal democracy, it would also not find the decision of Alexander to contest the position of leadership as untoward. The Peeper does not expect him to pose any problems for the incumbent leader. In fact, I believe that Uncle Bob can and will win easily in a two-person race between himself and Vincent.

However, I truly believe that if the PNCR wants to convince its supporters and the wider Guyanese society that it practices internal democracy, it should ensure that there are no impediments to Vincent and whoever may wish to challenge for leadership of the PNCR to canvass party groups.

It is rather unfortunate, therefore, the tone of certain letters which are equating this democratic right to challenge for leadership with undermining of the party. Making the leadership more competitive must not be interpreted as a vote of no confidence in the existing leadership. Neither should whoever emerges as the future leader of the party have any problems in working with whoever challenges for leader.

I do not believe that anyone can justly accuse Vincent of being interested in the demise of his party. Vincent has come though the ranks of the party, has been an active member within the leadership of the party for many years, and there is nothing that anyone can pinpoint that can question his commitment to his party. He has been with his party through thin and thick, and his loyalty has never been questioned. He should therefore be allowed to exercise his right to contest whatever positions of leadership he aspires to within his party. Every member has that right so long as they are nominated by party groups.

Whether the PNCR has matured as a political party will be tested by the manner in which it deals with the present leadership challenge, because I can assure all concerned that Vincent is not the only person who is likely to throw his hat in the ring. I am quite sure that there are others, both within the party and those outside watching on, who desire a change of the guard and a change in the direction of the party.