PNCR looking at new role, strategies
Stabroek News
April 1, 2007

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The future of the main opposition PNCR was at the top of the agenda when its members held a General Council meeting yesterday.

PNCR General Secretary Oscar Clarke told Stabroek News (SN) last evening that the party is moving to redefine its role and its strategies as it approaches its 50th anniversary. To this end, he explained, the General Council agreed to set up a broad-based committee to develop a paper to look at the new role the party should play, and strategies it should adopt for the future.

The General Council is the second highest decision-making forum for the party. Clarke described it as a success, while noting that there was participation by contingents from every region of the country. He said there was a broad discussion on the vision of the party for the future, stemming in large part from party leader Robert Corbin's address to the participants, which prompted many views on the way forward.

Reorganisation and the future have been major focal points for the party since it suffered its largest defeat at the polls at last year's general and regional elections. The party's performance led to some criticism of its leader, Robert Corbin, although many members have spoken out in his defence. A senior member of the party told SN that members expressed confidence in the PNCR leader at yesterday's council meeting. However, the member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also noted that some held the view that a challenge for the leadership would be a good thing for the party, especially in light of the push for reorganisation for the future.

The party will hold its Biennial Congress later this year. The congress is the party's highest decision-making forum and it could see several challenges to Corbin's leadership. After the death of late President Desmond Hoyte Corbin was elected as party leader at a special delegates' congress in 2004, defeating lone challenger Artie Ricknauth by a landslide. He was subsequently unchallenged at the biennial congress held later that year. A congress was scheduled to be held last year, but it was postponed due to the holding of general elections.

This year's congress would be merged with the 50th anniversary observances.

Clarke said that the leadership of the party updated the council yesterday on current issues, including preparations for local government elections. He noted that the party has been holding consultations throughout the country on the functioning of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs). He explained that consultations were held on the coast and reports from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Ten, were received at yesterday's meeting. He said the party's Central Executive Committee would refine the reports and based on the data a decision would be made on the PNCR's participation in the NDC polls. He mentioned that the party was looking at whether it would contest as a party or even at all, or whether it would encourage independent groups or individuals to contest instead since this is now permitted after constitutional reform. In relation to the municipal council elections, he said the PNCR is also looking to identify its slate of candidates and to provide them with training.

Clarke also noted that the party remains firm that there is need for a new registration of voters to create a new list for the local government polls. The council also agreed to continue focusing on strengthening its basic unit - the party group - and to renew emphasis on field work.