Please see my column of Wednesday, March 16, 2022 titled: “Lunatic fringe, usual suspects, Creole middle class and the PNC in 2025.” In that article, I wrote the following: “Norton said he welcomes coalition politics, happy that the WPA will soon return to APNU and will work with the AFC in the coalition. But there was a big but. The PNC leader said but the PNC in its relation with coalition partners will not be held to ransom.”
Kaieteur News – Norton is currently facing a ransom situation. The AFC has instructed Norton to instruct the PNC’s contingent in the Regional Democratic Council for Region 10 to vote for the AFC’s nominee to be Vice-Chairman of the Council at today’s statutory meeting.
Here are the words of the AFC’s leader, Khemraj Ramjattan on the issue: “If she is not given that position, well then there might be some consequences in relation to relationship and all of that…” This is judgment day for Norton. Let’s analyse the situation that is facing him.
First, if he submits to the edict of the AFC, then there will be a big dent in his credibility. The AFC has shaped its words in such a way that there is no escape for Norton. If he concedes then his ransom remark will come back to haunt him.
He openly said on a visit to the US that he will not accept to be subjected to ransom. He is being told to follow the instruction of the AFC or face consequences. That is ransom.
Secondly, if Norton submits to the AFC’s ransom, he will sharpen the knives of those who want his position. Norton’s supporters will be unwise to think that challenges to him are not brewing in the PNC’s hierarchy.
The mistakes of Norton in less than a year are too many. Because of his age, Norton faced immediate, though invisible, ambition from others after he became leader. Those invisible faces know he will be 69 at the next election and will push even harder the line of the need for a younger leader.
The two handshake scandals (that is what they were) has certainly resulted in Norton’s secret challengers wondering how good he is at strategising. It may not have been intended by David Hinds to embarrass Norton but his gesture of exclaiming, “shake my hand, Freddie” when he was the guest on the Gildarie-Freddie Kissoon Show highlighted Norton’s petty-minded approach to politics.
Thirdly, Norton has to imagine what consequences Ramjattan is talking about. In doing so, Norton will see that there cannot be any consequences because Ramjattan himself is imagining what does not exist.
The AFC has decided to leave the marriage with the PNC in December. The AFC then has removed its capacity to shape the directions of the APNU+AFC. It cannot threaten the PNC or issue edicts on what the PNC must do after December. Therefore what consequences is Ramjattan talking about?
In the present configuration, it is the PNC that is in a stronger position to threaten the AFC and not the other way around. Under the law, there cannot be in parliament, a parliamentarian under the title AFC. No AFC leader was elected to the House under the banner of AFC.
It means that there cannot be nine parliamentarians of the AFC after the marriage is dissolved in December. In this situation, Norton is stronger and Ramjattan is weaker. What Norton could do is through negotiations with the Speaker and the PPP, circumvent the law and allow for nine parliamentarians to sit as AFC House members.
The only consequences Ramjattan is imagining is if the PNC doesn’t give the lady the vice-chair position this afternoon, then the nine AFC House members that belong in law to APNU+AFC will not vote with the PNC in the National Assembly.
Here again, Norton is stronger and Ramjattan is weaker. What Norton can do if the AFC proves to be recalcitrant, is to remove the nine parliamentarians all together. I cannot see on the present political landscape which PNC supporter, which PNC voter will turn away from the PNC in 2025 because, in 2023, the PNC replaced the AFC House members with PNC candidates.
Aubrey Norton’s politics, his strategies and his credibility are on show today. He has no room to manoeuvre. If he accepts the ransom demand from the AFC then he will be disrespected by every PNC supporter. The only road to travel today is to ignore the AFC and put in a PNC candidate. The AFC is in no position to threaten anyone. Dead meat has no life. Dead meat is what it is – dead.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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