Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More fraud unearthed on PNC membership roll!

Tensions are rising over likely fraud in elections for top positions in this weekend’s biennial congress of the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), well-placed sources said yesterday.

A key strategist for former Health Minister, Dr. Richard Van West-Charles, among those challenging incumbent leader Robert Corbin, has alleged that the voters list has been padded to favour Corbin.

The party has denied that its electoral machinery is geared to see Corbin returned as PNCR leader but the allegations persist.

Van West-Charles had earlier raised questions about the transparency and fairness of the electoral system to be used at the August 21-22 biennial congress.

He is a son-in-law of the late President and founder-leader of the PNCR, Forbes Burnham, and returned here from overseas to join the leadership race against Corbin who has survived previous bids to unseat him.

Others nominated for the post of party leader are Dr. Aubrey Armstrong, Winston Murray, Aubrey Norton and Basil Williams.

In a note circulated to the media earlier this week, the strategist for Van West-Charles claimed that “desperate moves” were underway following a newspaper report that the PNCR was investigating claims that the names of dead persons were among those on the electoral register.

He alleged that a senior party functionary in Region Three was taking membership forms to supposed party members “to have them signed and secretly returned to Congress Place” (PNCR headquarters).

“We have unearthed many instances where the names on the PNCR membership roll were disputed by people we had contacted”, he stated.

“…we entered the villages and identified people whose names were on the list; a significant number of persons claimed that they are not members of the PNC and never signed any membership form so they do not know why their names are on a PNC list”, he said.

The PNCR has said that with regard to the verification of membership, a list of financial members, as of May 31, 2009, was circulated by General Secretary Oscar Clarke.

It said these lists were to be on display from July 19 to August 9 at the meeting places of the group so that they could be inspected by members who could raise any queries or objections with the party group officers.

“All such queries and objections should have been sent to the party secretariat and to the accreditation committee for investigation and appropriate action as required”, it said.

The PNCR said that in addition, the list of members for each party group was made available for inspection by members of the Central Executive Committee of the party, regional party officers and persons who have been nominated as candidates for the elections at Congress Place.

It added that all party groups have submitted their list of delegates for the congress based on their qualified membership.

It said these measures were instituted to remove the basis of previous claims of weaknesses in the system and to ensure greater transparency in the party processes.

“Similar procedures are being implemented for the election process, which will include the involvement of invited observers”, the PNCR said.

Corbin has been dogged by leadership in-fighting and charges of rigging party elections with Norton claiming he was last month manoeuvred out of the post as Chairman of the Georgetown district, a charge Corbin has denied.

The Biennial Delegates Congress is the highest decision making forum of the party and the theme is “People’s Victory Through Local Democracy.”

The PNCR said more than 1800 delegates and observers from 217 party groups, nine overseas groups and 27 youth groups are expected to participate.

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