IN January this year, Attorney-at-Law Geeta Chandan-Edmond was appointed the General Secretary of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R), under the stewardship of party leader Aubrey Norton, who rattled the PNC/R when he secured the post.
Chandan-Edmond was seen as someone who could shape the party’s ideology away from the race-based and trivial politics that the PNC/R was known to be practising publicly. She was seen as the conscience of the party, and held real power within her hands.
The politician, who is also an APNU+AFC parliamentarian, was Norton’s right hand, and guided the party on many issues relating to its policy formulation and articulation. She was not concerned with seeing everything that occurred in the political arena through the lens of “race”, but rather she dealt with issues.
Chandan-Edmond wanted to change the PNC/R so that its political appeal would transcend the Afro-Guyanese group, and continue its sojourn into mixed, East Indian and other groups.
Sadly, this, reportedly, created conflict within the hierarchy of the Central Committee of the PNC/R when certain decisions she allegedly made did not sit well with certain leaders. She was rumored to have made several U-turns and policy changes to accommodate “the way the PNC/R did things”.
When she, allegedly, raised her concerns with Norton, he brushed them aside, and instead started to bypass her. She was sidelined repeatedly whenever critical political decisions had to be made, and seemingly favoured Carol Joseph-Smith and other die-hard PNC/R Executives and Central Executive Members.
The politician then quietly submitted an immediate leave application to the party, citing personal reasons. The leave covers the period of August 10 to September 4, 2022.
Now, there is widespread speculation about whether Chandan-Edmond is going to turn up at the National Assembly come tomorrow, as several other parliamentarians have neither seen nor heard from her since the request for leave in August. She is also not engaged in the party’s preparations for local government polls.
Firstly, the party leader must address the issue surrounding the parliamentarian and the post of General Secretary; he cannot hold his tongue any longer, or try to save face.
Norton must be frank and open about Chandan-Edmond’s role in the Central Executive, along with her role, if any, in the wider party.
He must state, honestly, where there are disagreements and conflicting positions between himself and Chandan-Edmond or the executive.
Norton must announce, publicly, who he has in mind to replace her, especially if the party hopes to participate in the upcoming Local Government Elections.
Is it Smith-Joseph, or someone else?
Secondly, she, too, must be bold and engage the media before this issue surrounding her takes away the attention from the issues her party is trying to highlight.
Tell the public, who has a right to know, and the party’s supporters what the issue is that caused you to go on leave.
After all, no one saw it coming. Is Norton’s alleged arrogance the reason? Is the pressure from other executives to perform just as Amna Ally or Oscar Clarke? If so, should the public brace itself for a resignation from the post, and a further resignation from Parliament?
Is it a race or ethnic issue? Is it a trust or confidence issue?
Thirdly, the PNC/R has a bad record of treating their womenfolk badly, and then resorting to somewhat silence them.
Recall how David Granger dealt with the Vanessa Kissoon matter. She was, reportedly, pressured into silence.
Then there is the former Public Service Minister, the late Faith Harding, who’d made all sorts of accusations against the party’s hierarchy.
There are others, but the Chandan-Edmond matter is likely to become one of many stains on the record of Norton’s leadership of the party.
Finally, if she graces the National Assembly with her presence tomorrow, the media will have this and many other questions for her concerning her post.
If she stays away and shows cowardice, as is expected, then the pressure will fall directly on the shoulders of Norton, if that seat is empty in Parliament.
Something is not right with the entire political episode involving the PNC/R General Secretary.