Jan 18, 2009 News
Winston Murray has resigned as Chairman of the People’s National Congress/Reform (PNCR) following disagreements over his position on the Economic Partnership Agreement between Europe and CARIFORUM, the party announced yesterday.
Murray’s resignation as Chairman marks a further rift in the leadership of the main opposition party, which has summoned a general members meeting for today at its Congress Place, Sophia headquarters.
Murray is the highest ranking member of the party to have taken such drastic action over disagreements with the party hierarchy.
Murray’s resignation took effect on January 15, the party said. However, he remains a member of the PNCR and will continue to sit as a Member of Parliament for the party.
Murray said his resignation is a direct result of his principled objection to the issuance of a statement in the name of the PNCR, which essentially amounted to an abandonment of the position that he publicly represented at the consultations held by President Jagdeo during September of last year on the then proposed EPA.
He had represented the party as leader, since the PNCR leader Robert Corbin was out of the country.
Murray had essentially supported President Bharrat Jagdeo’s position that the EPA was a bad deal for Guyana.
“We do not see the reality as a fair agreement between the EU and CARIFORUM countries and it has always been understood, given the levels of development, that these agreements would be contentious. They should be without injury and send us into development of our people.
“If an impact assessment was to be conducted, I do not think that we have enough information on the cost and the impact this will have on our countries…I think that we need time to scrutinise this agreement and also it serves as a wake-up call for the Caribbean and Caricom in terms of where its development is going,” Murray had stated.
Jagdeo had commended the PNCR for “the strong, firm and positive position” that the party took on the matter.
However, the PNCR dropped Murray’s position and called on the government to join the other countries of the Caribbean Community in signing the EPA.
As a result of the party’s abandonment of his position on the EPA, Murray expressed his strongly held view that “it has become impossible for him to continue with any credibility in the office of Chairman of the Party”.
However, following discussions with the Leader, the PNCR said Murray has agreed to be a key member of a special Task Force set up to redefine a strategic plan for the future of the PNCR and to reposition the Party before 2011 as directed by the 14th Biennial Congress.
The party thanked Murray for “the tremendous contribution he has made over the years as Chairman.”
Murray’s resignation as Chairman sparks renewed controversy over Corbin’s leadership of the party.
Early in December, 2008, Vice-Chairman Vincent Alexander resigned from the Local Government Task Force, on which he was representing the party, and did not renew his membership of the party.
Alexander’s resignation followed the decision of the party to recall James McAllister as a Member of Parliament.
McAllister was part of “Team Alexander” which in April, 2007 expressed interest in mounting a challenge to Corbin’s leadership at the party’s biennial congress. The challenge was withdrawn just before the Congress in the face of “hostility”, Alexander had stated.
“The party, in its attempts to destroy the seeds of a new polity and to emasculate those who dared to traverse a new and progressive path, went into killer drive and trumped-up charges against those who dared to challenge the status quo,” Alexander said when he resigned.
Dissent in the PNCR started to show up glaringly when Raphael Trotman resigned in May, 2005 and joined with Khemraj Ramjattan, who was booted from the ruling People’s Progressive Party, to form their own political movement and contest the 2006 general elections.
Since then, several key members of the PNCR have left, including Stanley Ming, Peter Ramsaroop and Jerome Khan.
VCT television owner, Anthony Vieira, who joined the party in 2006, had also recently resigned from being a Member of Parliament for the party, but withdrew his resignation upon the insistence of Corbin.
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