January 12, 2020
…“dine and wine” event ends in chaos …Govt vehicle among 5 vehicles damaged By Michael YoungeOver 100 delegates from the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) will either create history or maintain the status quo when they vote in a critical poll to elect the new Central Executive Committee of that party today.That Central Executive Committee will be tasked with leading the PNCR into the upcoming Local Government Elections and the subsequent 2020 General and Regional Elections.On Friday night and all day Saturday, the high-ranking officials who are vying for top posts held independent and informal meetings with delegates in order to canvas their electoral support ahead of today’s vote.The most critical aspect of the voting process is related to the selection of a new party chairman. That post is currently being held by PNCR executive member Basil Williams, who has served two consecutive terms.Williams, the country’s current Attorney General, is seeking a third term in the post, which actively means that he could become the next in line to replace the party’s leader, David Granger, if Granger chooses not to run in 2020 as the party’s presidential candidate.Over the weekend, Williams and the groups that nominated him seemed to be a bit uneasy, as a majority of the delegates who had earlier pledged support to him were apparently deflecting to his competitors.Also contesting for the position of party chairman is head of the PNCR Women’s Arm, Volda Lawrence. Lawrence currently serves as the country’s Public Health Minister after a short stint as its Social Protection Minister.“She’s one to beat”, a party insider had opined during an exchange with the Guyana Times on Thursday last. Lawrence’s support base is drawn from Georgetown and Region Four generally. She also commands a strong support base in Regions Five, Nine and 10.The final competitor for the post of party chairman is PNCR executive member Joseph Harmon. In the lead up to the Congress, he managed to launch an effective social media campaign, and has been visiting various regions, where he has been holding a number of engagements.Harmon serves as the country’s Minister of State, and is generally viewed as the closest confidant of President David Granger, who is the leader of the PNC/R. On Friday, news swept through the congress that Harmon had managed to secure the blessings of the top party executives, but this could not be confirmed by this publication.Meanwhile, a slew of young people have thrown their hats into the ring when they signalled their intention to run for the post of party vice chairman. Chief among the contenders is current Vice Chairman Volda Lawrence and Dr George Norton, who were nominated again.New challengers include Christopher Jones, who is the country’s current Director of Sport; while Annette Ferguson, who is serving as the Junior Public Infrastructure Minister in the coalition Government, has also signalled her interest. Other contenders include party executives Aubrey Norton and Thandi McAllister. One of the party’s diaspora representatives, Cosford Roberts, has also indicated his intention to seek election to the office.“Dine and wine” socialThe party’s election process is taking place after day one ended in controversy and a myriad of problems which stemmed from an after-conference event.On Friday evening, the event saw complete chaos taking place after at least five vehicles belonging to attendees — one of which is attached to the Social Cohesion Ministry — became involved in a collision outside of the after-conference venue, Georgetown Club on Camp Street, Georgetown.While details are still sketchy, Police “A” Division Commander Marlon Chapman and Traffic Chief Ramesh Ashram have both confirmed the incident. However, while Chapman noted that he had no information regarding what transpired, Ashram disclosed that one vehicle belonging to the Social Cohesion Ministry was involved.The Traffic Chief further explained that the multi-vehicle collision was deemed minor, as only vehicles were damaged.When Guyana Times spoke to Ashram on Saturday afternoon, he said he had only been briefed on the accident, and had not received a full report.While unconfirmed, information has surfaced that the accident occurred as a result of the PNCR Congress attendees over imbibing and attempting to drive.It is also alleged that following the accident, Government officials quickly fled the scene to avoid possible encounters with the media. Investigations are ongoing.