Thursday, August 27, 2009


A post-PNCR congress analysis by RICKEY SINGH

RICKEY SINGH: This past weekend in Guyana, Robert Corbin, a 62-year-old lawyer, was thanking God and party loyalists for re-electing him leader of the People's National Congress Reform (PNCR), the country's major parliamentary opposition.

But his challengers for leadership and others who want to see him replaced at the helm were singing from a different hymn sheet with claims of electoral irregularities and concerns over the party's future, having suffered defeat at four successive general elections since 1992.

The official announcement declared him a convincing victor with more than double the votes polled by his lone challenger, Winston Murray (also a lawyer), after four other nominated contestants had withdrawn from the race earlier in the week in a determined bid to ensure his defeat.

The staunch backers of Murray, former chairman of the party who was profiled as a suitable comprise by the other nominated challengers to Corbin, had included Dr Richard Van West-Charles, a former Health Minister and son-in-law of the late President Forbes Burnham.

However, when the official results were declared--amid claims of falsification of membership applications, misuse of delegates badges and protests over electoral procedures--Corbin had polled 614 votes to Murray's 223 of the total 1,175 seated delegates who chose to cast their ballots.

Murray did not conceal his disappointment, noting with characteristic calm and political maturity, as reported in the media, that he accepted the results, given the margin of Corbin's declared victory and despite the flawed electoral process and procedural irregularities.

Since he remains a PNCR parliamentarian, he would not rush into making a decision at this stage about his personal future with the PNCR or in the country's party politics, he said.

Nevertheless, Van West-Charles was not to be counted among other nominated challengers for the leadership who were still keeping their silence at the time of writing.

He maintains his position during the campaign for leadership change and has catalogued cases of what he claims to be "systematic centralised falsification" of membership applications in the compilation of the register of eligible voting delegates for last week's (August 21-22) 16th Biennial Congress.

The convenor of the accreditation committee for the congress, Lance Carberry, has dismissed all allegations of improprieties in arrangements for the election of the party's leader and others who comprise the Central Executive Committee (CEC).

Challenges ahead
The reality, as third-term leader Corbin would be quite aware, even though reluctant to publicly express it, is that the PNCR's serious internal conflicts have not ended with his retention of the leadership and the election of his loyalists to positions of chairman and vice-chairmen.

Indeed, the divisions may well have been exacerbated by occurrences at the 16th Biennial Congress to further affect the PNCR's quest to defeat the People's Progressive Party at new presidential and parliamentary elections due by August 2011.

Corbin's immediate challenge, therefore, must be to heal wounds and unite the disparate factions, the sooner the better, even as the governing PPP focuses on coming local government elections, likely in early 2010, and plans ahead to remain in government for a fifth consecutive term at the 2011 national poll..

It is going to be a very hard row for him to hoe, and though his opponents and detractors would understandably withhold credits, Corbin has demonstrated his capacity for political survival that also includes the art of winning controversial elections.

He has accumulated much experience in party and national politics since he first became a parliamentarian in 1973 and rose through the leadership ranks of his party.

Over the years, he has held various party positions---vice-chairman, general secretary, chairman---and finally leader, since 2003, with the passing of former Executive President and PNCR leader Hugh Desmond Hoyte.

His identification with divisive and controversial 'street politics' in opposition to administrations of the PPP would certainly not be among his pluses for those across the national political divide who are anxious for the politics of consultation and reconciliation that requires matured responses on the part of both the governing and parliamentary opposition parties.


  1. I guess everyone saw this coming. Corbin would never allow anyone to take away what his icon, Burnham, left for him-the party! Everybody knows Corbin is the rigging doctor even when fatman was around he was the one that architected all the frauds that went on….

  2. The AFC will soon take over the spot of being the main opposition party in Guyana if the PNC continues down this road. Now I see they have Green on the executive committee…..where are they heading form here?
    Seem they are making steps backward instead of progressing forward!

  3. COULD SOMEONE EXPLAIN the riggin as explained by Nagamootoo?