The first General Council of the People’s National Congress Reform, for the Year 2012, was held, on Saturday 3rd March 2012, at the Party’s Headquarters, Congress Place, Sophia. The attendees of General Council included members of the Central Executive, delegates from all ten Regions of Guyana, members of Parliament and special invitees.

The General Council, which is the highest decision-making forum of the Party, after the Biennial Congress, was chaired by Party Chairman, Mr. Bishwaishwar “Cammie” Ramsaroop. In his welcome and opening remarks, the Chairman stated that this General Council would deal with the relationship between the PNCR and APNU, as well as the performance of the APNU at the 28 November 2011 General and Regional Elections.

The Chairman observed that the PPP/C still seemed to be seeing the politics of Guyana as if it is business as usual. He pointed out that, although the PPP/C seems to have accepted the tripartite process, their general conduct is characterized by the same old unilateralism which they have displayed since they took office in 1992. The winner-takes-all politics in Guyana is no more a reality, thanks to APNU and the PNCR. The PNCR, he posited, is in the ascendency again and no doubt still has its best days ahead.

Mr. Ramsaroop praised the leaders of the Party on their leadership styles and qualities and made special reference to Mr. Robert Corbin, whose tasks as Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition was more difficult than that of the other Party Leaders in office. Mr. Corbin, he explained, as Leader out of office, is severely restricted by the limited areas of patronage open to him. Therefore, his exercise of judgement, in these circumstances, would always attract more criticisms. He lauded the hard work, dedication and commitment of the Party Leader who applied himself to the task of building the Party.

He also applauded Mr. Corbin for not offering himself as the Presidential Candidate for the Party but, instead, instituted the process and mechanism of the primaries to elect the Presidential Candidate for the Party.

General Secretary of the Party, Mr. Oscar Clarke, in his Report to General Council, gave an account of the state of the Party and the preparations for the upcoming 17th Biennial Delegates Congress.

Mr. Clarke also gave a roll call of all those Party members, stalwarts and supporters who passed on since the last General Council, in May 2011, and requested General Council to observe one minute of silence as a mark of respect.

The Party Leader, Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, in his address to General Council, stated that one of the principles of the Party was the recognition of the importance of reaching out and bringing fresh blood aboard the Party to keep it rejuvenated. In looking back at his 2007 Congress Speech, he said that the PNCR, as a Party, is concerned about Guyana and the overall objective has always been to ensure a better quality of life for the people of Guyana.

Mr. Corbin also saw APNU as the creation by the PNCR in collaboration with other political parties. “The formation of APNU is not an alternative for the PNCR”, he said. “The PNCR has to remain dedicated to the development and empowerment of the working people of this country. It must remain vibrant, dynamic and alive, for without the PNCR there could not have been APNU. The mission of the PNCR is to continue to rejuvenate and reposition the Party as we collaborate in a wider partnership.”

Mr. Corbin also discussed the emergence of factionalism in the Party. He said that as the Party grows in strength there are signs of a most unpleasant tendency – factionalism – which must be dealt with immediately since it would not help to take the Party forward. He emphasised that the PNCR should be the only faction if we are to progress.

APNU Campaign Director, Mr. Joseph Harmon gave a review of the Election Campaign 2011. He said that the aim of the APNU campaign was to win the elections and defeat the PPP. This overall objective was not fully realised and he explained reasons for this.

He commended the contributions of: the small people who helped to finance the campaign of APNU as the partnership did not benefit from any single major donor; the Diaspora who made a lot of things possible for the campaign; and the young people, who he said were involved at every stage of the process and whose energies helped to take the campaign into many non-traditional areas of the country.

Mr. Harmon also explained the findings of the verification exercise based on the Statements of Poll (SOP’s) which exposed a number of glaring irregularities and discrepancies in the elections management by GECOM, particularly the process for the declaration of the election results. He outlined the difficulties experienced in seeking to get access to the “original” SOPs from GECOM. He gave examples of the findings of the investigations conducted by the Teams which undertook the task. For example, the discovery of multiple SOP’s with the same signatures, the failure to provide a List of the Official Polling Places, particularly those in private residences.

APNU’s Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier David Granger, in his presentation to General Council, commenced by stating that the Party must honour members who have worked hard over the decades and this must be done by the 55th anniversary of the Party. He also proposed that the Party should institute a Forbes Burnham Annual Bursary Award to preserve the memory of the Founder Leader.

He reminded General Council of the Party Leader’s statement in his address that the PNCR is the heart of APNU and will continue in the partnership with the other nine (9) partners to deliver a good life for all Guyanese. Mr. Granger said that the PNCR was the best organized Party on the ground during the campaign. He pointed out that, throughout the elections campaign, APNU ran a clean campaign. He reminded General Council of the mood change after the 27th October 2011(Nomination Day) when APNU staged a “Green Wave” on the streets of Georgetown to the City Hall. He said that APNU became an “unstoppable force” after that date.

He also commended the GYSM, YCT and the Campaign Movers for their energies and said that the young people were the ones who electrified the campaign.

He also spoke of the factionalism within the Party and stressed that Party business must be transacted within the Party organs such as the Central Executive and the General Council. He described the PNCR as a law driven Party and not a lawless Party and drew attention to the fact that its past leaders were, and the current leader is an Attorney.

Mr. Granger also spoke of the imperative of reforming the PNCR, NCW and GYSM to ensure that they become in tune with the times. In concluding, he commended all officers of the Party, groups, members, pastors, and all those who worked hard during the election campaign. He said that the silent service of many persons, within and without Guyana, made the results, on 28th November 2011, possible.

The afternoon session consisted of a lively forum in which questions, suggestions, recommendations and motions were vigorously debated and analysed.

The PNCR Chairman, Mr. Bishwaishwar “Cammie” Ramsaroop, brought the curtains down with the Summation and Charge.