PRESS RELEASE - Monday 28 February 2011



PNCR ELECTS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
AT SPECIAL DELEGATES CONGRESS

The People’s National Congress Reform expresses sincere thanks to the all Guyanese, and more particularly, it members, delegates and observers to the Special Delegates Congress and the five Presidential Nominees for participating and contributing to the successful conclusion of the PNCR Presidential Candidate Process, that resulted in the election of Mr. David Granger, Brigadier Ret’d, as the PNCR’s Presidential Candidate for the 2011 General and Regional Elections. This process came to an end at the Party’s Special Delegates Congress on Saturday 26th February 2011, at the Party’s Headquarters, Congress Place, Sophia.

More than one thousand delegates and observers from the ten (10) Regions of Guyana and the North American and the United Kingdom Regions of the Party, participated in the historic event of the First Primaries for a Presidential Candidate for any political party in Guyana. Eight hundred and twenty-seven (827) Delegates and almost two hundred (200) Observers were formally accredited after the strict application of the Constitution of the PNCR.

The accreditation Committee, which was chaired by Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and Central Executive Committee Member, Mrs. Clarissa Riehl, M.P., and included all five Presidential Nominees, made special arrangements to ensure maximum transparency of the process. At the conclusion of the Elections, the Returning Officer, Mr. Earl John of Sandra V. Jones Associates, declared the following results:

Of the 666 ballots cast Retired Brigadier, David Granger won with 279 Votes; Mr. Carl Greenidge: 264 Votes; Mr. Basil Williams: 88 Votes; Dr. Faith Harding: 20 Votes; and, Mr. James Bond: 13 Votes. Mr. David Granger was, therefore, declared the successful PNCR Presidential Candidate amidst wide and resounding applause by the delegates and observers.

Voting was by secret ballot with delegates required to use one of the four polling booths at the location. Delegates were required to surrender their Delegate wrist band when they collected their ballot and the entire process was conducted in full view of the Congress Delegates in the Auditorium. In his acceptance speech, Brigadier Granger pledged to work with all the Nominees and the Party to ensure that the dictatorial PPP/C regime was removed from Office at the forthcoming General and Regional Elections later this year.

The Accreditation Committee, after evaluating previous experiences at PNCR’s internal elections, outlined several procedures to be followed for the Special Congress that were fully implemented. These arrangements included the publication of the names of all financial members of the PNCR, which information was available for scrutiny by all Candidates and interested members several weeks before the Congress. The list was also sent to all Party Groups to provide an opportunity for comparison with their individual records and to query any discrepancies, if any were found. At the conclusion of this process, groups were required to submit the names of their delegates and observers in advance, which were also subject to scrutiny. The Accreditation Committee also introduced new rules for registration which included the presentation by the Delegate of photo identification and membership card. Special wrist bands were also placed around the hand of each delegate at the time of registration, which was only removed by election agents when that Delegate received a ballot paper prior to voting.

All the Candidates appointed scrutineers to monitor all aspects of the process, including, the counting of the ballots, until the declaration of results by the Returning Officer.

The PNCR, therefore, wishes to state categorically that there was no controversy or confusion over the results of the Election when they were declared by the Returning Officer. The PNCR also wishes to correct misinformation published in some media and emphasise that there was only one Declaration of the Official Results by the Returning Officer. Consequently, there could have been no differing results as claimed by two sections of the media.

It appears that some over enthusiastic supporters of one candidate or a mischievous person had relayed incorrect information of the results of the Election even before the count was concluded and that Demerara Waves made a publication of results before the count was concluded or the Official Declaration made by the Returning Officer. The Returning Officer has, however, in a separate statement today, Monday 28th February 2011, clarified this matter. In that Statement from Sandra Jones Associates, the Returning Officer stated that:

“In view of the conflicting reports circulated about the results of the polling for the selection of the PNCR’s presidential candidature on Saturday 26th February, 2011, it may be useful for the public to be advised of what actually took place.

It should be noted that apart from delegates having to enter four polling booths to make their marks on the ballots provided, all other aspects of the poll were conducted in full view of the packed auditorium of delegates, observers, scrutineers, photographers, and the candidates themselves.

In their presence each of the six hundred and sixty-six ballots was placed in the bin identified for the respective candidates, only after being displayed to all the scrutineers.

It was noticeable that as the names were loudly called out some of the scrutineers were making their own tallies – obviously before the official count had started.

When the latter procedure was in fact completed the five candidates were invited to the stage by the Returning Officer, who advised them of the individual results, and enquired of their view of having a recount, particularly in light of the apparent close votes between the two high scoring candidates. The majority decision was that there should be such a recount in respect of those two candidates only. This single recount was effected under the scrutiny of their representatives who together confirmed the original results as subsequently reported.

It was only then that a public announcement was made around 19:00 hours to the waiting delegates of the official results.

It would appear that an earlier report may have emerged from those scrutineers who had done their own tallying; but it is relevant to state that there was never a controversy about the announced results.

Most grateful if your medium will be good enough to publish the above statement.

E. B. John
for S. V. Jones Associates
Returning Officer”

The Opening Session of the Congress was chaired by the Party’s General Secretary, Mr. Oscar Clarke and addressed by the Party’s Chairman, Mr. Bishwaishwar “Cammie” Rampsaroop and Leader of the PNCR and Opposition, Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin. Thereafter, each candidate was given an opportunity to address the Congress for ten minutes and all presentations were well received by the audience. At the conclusion of this process, the Returning Officer took charge of the proceedings and managed the electoral process in full view and scrutiny of all the participants of the Congress.

Party Chairman, Mr. Bishwaishwar Ramsaroop, in welcoming the delegates and observers, described it as an epic and epochal Congress, which will occupy a pre-eminent place in the annals of our history. Identifying what he described as the four significant features of the Congress, the Chairman stated that it marked the de facto start of the PNCR election campaign for 2011; that it marked a new dimension and manifestation of democracy within the Party; that it consummated a process which for the first time witnessed the election of a Presidential Candidate other than the incumbent Leader of the Party; and, that it ushered in a new dynamic for the Party that would lead to the resumption of the reins of office and the formation of the next Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

The Party Chairman praised the hard work put in by members of the Candidate Process Committee as well as the nominees, whom he described as portraying the qualities of hard work, integrity, patriotism, loyalty to the Party and knowledge of the problems of Guyana. These qualities made them all eminently qualified for Presidential office. He noted that while only one nominee could win the race, he looked forward to working closely with all of the nominees to secure victory for the Party in the upcoming election.

The Party Chairman reminded the Congress of the admonition of Party’s Founder Leader, L.F.S. Burnham regarding unity and the acceptance of one Leader as being essential for success. In conclusion, he urged the assembled delegates and observers not to be euphoric and believe that the Congress was the end of the journey. “The real battle begins today” he urged, adding that, “although the Presidential Candidate is a catalytic force, it is the Party which is the incarnation of all of us here that must lead the struggle for victory.”

Mr. Ramsaroop also used this opportunity to express gratitude to all the groups of the PNCR which had nominated him as a Presidential Candidate and despite his non acceptance, he promised to serve the Party as Chairman, with the same strength and vigour he demonstrated in the past.

Meanwhile, Party Leader Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, in his address, emphasised that the historic nature and significance of the Congress ought to be appreciated by all. According to him, the Party was breaking new ground in Guyana and leading the way in the transformation of the political culture. For the first time in its fifty-six year history, the Party membership has been given the opportunity to determine who should be its Presidential Candidate.

He explained that the Party commenced discussions on developing a system of Primaries for the identification of candidates to contest local Government, Regional and General Elections, more than thirty years ago. The objective was to ensure that Party representatives who seek election to high office had the confidence of the people they proposed to represent as well as understood that they were accountable to the people who placed confidence in them. The people would also have an opportunity of determining their stewardship and, if they failed to perform, also determining if they should be returned.

Despite universal acceptance of the principle of primaries by successive Executives of the Party, there were many practical difficulties and challenges which militated against its implementation. He hoped, however, that the System of Primaries would now become institutionalised in the People;s National Congress Reform, irrespective of the practices of other parties in Guyana.

The Special Delegates Congress concluded with a cultural presentation to the Delegates by Guyana leading Calypsonians, including the Junior Calypso Monarch for 2011, Ms. Diana Chapman and accompanied by the Yoruba Singers. Congress participants were thrilled with the imaginative lyrics and the pulsating rhythms.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Monday 28th February 2011