Leading up to, and since the March 2020 General and Regional Elections, the new PNCR Chairman, Aubrey Norton, has habitually unleashed several scathing attacks on Justice Claudette Singh, Chairwoman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). His sustained approach of this relentless attitude against many of our key institutions is evidenced by public remarks laden with condemnation of the decision of our courts, the Caribbean Court of Justice, and more recently disparaging criticisms of President Ali’s appointment of Clifton Hicken as Commissioner of Police (ag).
These, without a doubt, have been callous, wanton, without merit, lacking justification, and deserving of vehement condemnation. Certainly, the adopted posture is one-track, and is also known to have realized a heavy frictional position within the PNCR Leadership, which lends itself to the testimony of the extended period it is taking for the replacement of Ms Nicolette Henry and Mr Joseph Harmon as representative Members of Parliament.
This does not auger well for objective or constructive engagements, as they highlight the PNCR’s akin syndrome of non-objectivity in their selection to oppose and denunciate in an attempt to gain convenient visibility.
The frequent accompanying lack of candor from the PNCR and the ‘two-bit’ supporting groupings making up the APNU camp suggest that these shallow interventions merely target the attraction of publicity. Likewise, the voluminous silence of the three-membership civil society group in these critical areas presents a pale picture of impartiality.
In comparison with other logical observers and commentators, these continuous clumsy, contemptuous, and ‘wishy-washy’ remarks are certainly exposing an infantile mentality. Please permit me, therefore, to defragment a bit on these two areas for want of necessary public clarification.
Norton’s thunderous silence concerning the evidence-fuelled and corrupt behaviour of those PNCR underlings from among the GECOM officials now facing charges for electoral fraud emphasises why he should be silent in the first place. One cannot plead the so-call ‘fifth amendment’ and suddenly expect the world to see them as rudimentary, transparent, and correct.
As the new PNC Leader, Norton did not hesitate to criticise the appointment of Vishnu Persaud as the Chief Executive Officer of GECOM. This is although the process followed the procedures governed under the constitutionally guaranteed autonomy of GECOM and included the participation of APNU’s designated Commissioners.
The Guyanese people are now calling on the PNC General Council to come out and oppose Norton’s unwanted criticism of the imminent Justice Claudette Singh. Furthermore, the so-called Civil Society and Article 13 Group must now let the nation know if they too are in support of all these provocative loose statements that are being spurted from this loosed creature called Norton.
Editor, please permit me to touch on President Ali’s choice of Mr. Clifton Hicken, who has all the necessary credentials, as acting Commissioner of Police. It is known that in appointing a Commissioner of Police, the Constitution provides that the “Commissioner of Police and every Deputy Commissioner of Police shall be appointed by the President, acting after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and Chairperson of the Police Service Commission, after the Chairperson has consulted with the other members of the Commission”. His Excellency President Ali has recently reiterated his commitment to this process when the time arrives.
The proceeding on pre- retirement leave by the previous acting Commissioner, Mr Nigel Hoppie, has created a vacancy that must be filled, albeit temporarily at the President’s discretion in the key constitutional agency. The life of the previous Police Service Commission has expired, after being initially suspended by the President for justified reasons affecting consultation, and its resuscitation has been deferred due to challenges still to be decided in the Courts.
Further, it is not surprising that since the resignation of Mr. Harmon, Guyana is still without a Leader of the Opposition. Perhaps the present Leader of the PNC lacks the necessary leadership qualities to convince his peers in the executive of his party. Mr. Norton’s aspiring parliamentary rise to this position is preceded by some concerns evidenced by the slow decision-making of his party. He was previously kicked out of Parliament by the PNC, and also radically booted out during his earlier tenure in the position of General Secretary of the Party.
This apparent lack of respect by many who have significant influence in the PNC seemingly lends to stronger measures of uncertainty, and impedes meaningful consultation. Before Norton continues his rants and attacks on our institutions, and PPPC General Secretary Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, whose ilk he could never measure up to, he may be better served by fighting internally to earn the respect of his party peers, who may approve of his struggles to get back as a second-string parliamentarian.
Guyana, under the PPP/C, is doing extremely well. This nation needs to stay united and work together to build itself stronger and better. However, our people must respect our Constitution, our leaders, and our institutions.