Challenge to Corbin's leadership unveiled By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
April 28, 2007

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Seven PNCR Central Executive Committee members met with party leader Robert Corbin yesterday to notify him that they will be lobbying party groups to support a candidate to contest the position of leader at the upcoming Biennial Congress slated for mid-year.

A statement issued yesterday by the group said its members requested a meeting with Corbin to inform him of their intention.

They also indicated that they would begin their campaign among the party membership for the candidate of their choice. They intend to disclose the name of the candidate in about another week's time once approval is given by the group's supporters, sources say.

The release said the members "conveyed their expectations in relation to the conduct of the affairs of the party in preparation for congress, given the party's commitment to the democratic process."

The executive members of the group which informed Corbin of the leadership challenge are Deborah Backer, James McAllister, Dr Dalgliesh Joseph, Vincent Alexander, Ivor Allen, Joe Hamilton and Hamley Case.

Corbin was present at the meeting - described as frank and cordial - with party Chairman Winston Murray and General Secretary Oscar Clarke.

Stabroek News sought a comment from Corbin but was unable contact him.

The meeting came after months of seething discontent over Corbin's retention of leadership following the party's stinging defeat at the last general elections. Corbin has indicated his intention of staying on despite the opposition from within.

The PNCR, in a coalition with the One Guyana faction, suffered a big defeat at the last general and regional elections, statistically losing support in some of its strongholds, particularly Linden.

Since the general and regional elections were held two central executive members, Sherwood Lowe and Supriya Singh, have resigned from their posts. And even though this was not reported it is believed that they were disenchanted with the current state of affairs in the leadership of the party.

In recent times, too, based on letters to the editor of this newspaper, there have been expressions of dissatisfaction with Corbin's style of leadership, even from among the youth membership, some of whom felt they were not represented in parliament.

One letter, which was published on Thursday said 'leader hopefuls' must give party members a chance to ask them critical questions which would include reasons for wanting to become the party leader; what they are prepared to do to continue improving the party's image; and how they would guarantee the party and Guyanese electoral victory at the next election.

Other questions include, how they intend to restructure the party to meet new and emerging challenges locally and internationally; the ideological position they would have the party embrace under their leadership; and their candid views with regard to some specific emergencies relating to the party. How will they get the party's youth arm to be more proactive and militant; the kind of relations, if any, they would have with the PPP/C; and the kind of relationship the party would have with the other parliamentary opposition parties, civil society and other interest groups are other questions asked.

A letter from Garfield Boston on March 27, said the PNCR over the years had been a force to reckon with under the leadership of Linden Forbes Burnham and Hugh Desmond Hoyte to some extent, but under Corbin's leadership "the party has lost its salt and this is evident from the results of the last national and regional elections."

He said, too that at the last election a large majority of PNCR's supporters did not turn out to vote despite large turnouts at the various rallies and programmes prior to elections and many young supporters voted for other political parties despite the PNCR's programmes in its manifesto.

Boston said that under Corbin the party "has lost its strength and support base." He believes "members or supporters must not hide these problems in a closet… If we are to move forward as a party, we must look seriously at our leadership. Cliqueisim and favouritism should not be the order of the day."

He said those writing letters of support for Corbin were from a set of persons seeking to cover up his weak leadership, and they were from persons whom he would have selected to sit in the Parliament of Guyana or on the Regional Democratic Councils.

He added that at present, the PNCR does not have programmes and the means of disseminating information to its supporters since there is no newspaper and the television programme Nation Watch usually carries rebroadcasts.