Challenge is internal party matter, Corbin says
-still available to serve By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
April 29, 2007

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PNCR Leader Robert Corbin says he is still available to serve the PNCR and the country at this time and if nominated and elected at the party's Biennial Congress scheduled for mid-year will continue to serve.

Asked about the announced challenge to his leadership by some members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the party, Corbin yesterday said that he did not wish "to violate our established norms by commenting on what is essentially an internal party matter but I rely on the official party statement issued earlier today [yesterday] on the matter."

Nevertheless, he said he was still available to serve both party and country if nominated and elected and will continue "to serve as I have always done in whatever capacity I am reasonably required to do."

He said that at this stage, he was not preoccupied with the party's upcoming congress since there were many urgent matters to be dealt with long before that time. This includes "the prevarication of the Jagdeo administration on the issue of local government elections; preparation of the party for local government elections, whenever it is held; the pursuit of the issue of shared governance; the unity of the trade union movement as May Day approaches; and the freedom of Mark Benschop."

The PNCR, in a coalition with the One Guyana faction, suffered a stinging defeat at the last general and regional elections, statistically losing support in some of its strongholds, including Georgetown and Linden. Since then, there have been expressions of dissatisfaction from the general membership including the youth arm, in Corbin's leadership; and at least two central executive members, Sherwood Lowe and Supriya Singh have resigned.

Those challenging Corbin's leadership and who met with him on Friday were Deborah Backer, James McAllister, Dr Dalgliesh Joseph, Vincent Alexander, Ivor Allen, Joe Hamilton and Hamley Case.

Commenting on what he deemed, "the vicious personal negative campaign that is being waged in the media against me and the possibility of a challenge to my leadership," Corbin said, "Throughout my political career I have faced elections within the party and I believe such processes are necessary and healthy. The party is a God-fearing party that acknowledges the God as the master of the universe. I am a believer in the great Jehovah and in Him I have always placed my trust. He has never failed me even when situations are not very clear to all men. I therefore place my political fate in His hands and the membership of the PNCR."

The PNCR, in a release issued yesterday, noted that some members of the CEC met the leader, chairman and general secretary of the party and indicated their intention to support a candidate to contest the position of leader at the party's forthcoming congress.

While reiterating that the party's democratic process has always been alive within the party and all offices of the party are subject to elections at its congress, the release said, "it was most unfortunate that before the commencement of this process, this group has chosen to publicize what is essentially an internal party matter, notwithstanding informed advice given to them that this action would be inimical to the party's best interest at this time."

The release said the constitutional procedure is that party groups nominate candidates for the various offices at the appropriate time and the candidates were required to indicate whether they accept nomination. Thereafter delegates to the congress vote by secret ballot for the candidates of their choice.

The release continued that these constitutional rules were well known to party members and the process, which has not yet commenced for the upcoming congress, and the procedure in the past has been routinely followed.

The release said also that members and candidates are also free to visit party groups to express their opinions on various issues and this has always been the practice, particularly at the time of congress and the position of leader has also been contested at previous congresses including the 2004 Biennial Congress.

The PNCR release said the matter had already been discussed by the CEC and will be fully ventilated at a previously planned retreat to be held shortly.