|PARTY CHAIRMAN'S WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS|
Yes, my dear comrades this is the climate in which we meet. At the level of our party we also face challenges, particularly the growing expectations of our members, coupled with their rising impatience.
EXPECTATIONS OF CONGRESS
It is obvious that in the present atmosphere, there are great expectations of this Congress; from our members and from society in general. Great responsibility is therefore thrust upon us at this 13th Biennial Congress:
LET FREE AND FRANK DISCUSSION REIGN:
There is no doubt that our Party has always practised democracy and that this democratic tradition is still alive and well. The election campaign of some of our candidates contesting Office at this Congress provive useful evidence of this and has certainly removed any doubts, if any existed, about the democracy in our Party today.
THE PNCR AND GUYANA'S FUTURE
We must continue to be well organized, ready and prepared with the appropriate policies and programmes, to form a successful alternative government. Our task must be to save our country from its descent into anarchy and destruction and place it squarely on the road towards becoming a modern, viable, prosperous state. As we pursue our programme, we must, however, maintain respect for the rule of law and an absolute commitment to the Constitution of our Republic whilst working for constitutional change.
We must successfully revise our party's constitution and re-design its internal structures if this congress considers it necessary. From our perspective, there ought not to be any contradiction between the principles of accountability, transparency, openness, inclusion and involvement articulated in the Constitution of Guyana and those that must underpin a revised constitution of the PNCReform.
We need to ensure that those who will be charged with special responsibilities by this Congress carry out their tasks expeditiously. We would expect them to consult with our party groups throughout the country and submit appropriate reports for consideration and approval by the next congress of the party or before, at a Special Congress, if that is deemed necessary. We must leave this Congress with clear proposals on the political situation.
We must also immediately begin to put into practice all the commitments made and unanimously agreed to, and contained in our Congress resolutions. We must leave this Congress with clear proposals on the security situation. Indeed, we must consider and propose strategies to reverse the alarming trends of unrelenting violence. The absolute priority must be to ensure the safety and security of every citizen so that we can all begin to rebuild our confidence in the future.
We must leave this congress with solutions for the worsening race relations in Guyana. We must immediately find ways of ending the corrosion in relationships between our two major races. The beating, robbing and killing of innocent civilians irrespective of their racial origin, are abhorrent and degrading. The continuation of these events will sound the death knell for our country.
Our unreserved condemnation of these trends must now be transformed into practical means of improving relations. The increasing tensions within, and between, our villages on the East Coast in particular, must be addressed. In this task, I am sure that the Congress will urge all political parties, civil society, religious leaders elders, community leaders, women and the youth to join in the task of helping communities to talk, work and live together.
We must leave this Congress with proposals to address the plight of young people, particularly those in depressed communities. Even in our depressing economic conditions, we must find new ways of mobilising community, private sector and other resources and support to demonstrate that a serious start can be made in attending to this chronic problem in our society.
Yes comrades, this congress must come up with answers, not only dwell on the problems. There will be great opportunity for discussion both at the plenary and at the workshop sessions. Let us make full use of them.
SOME OF THE QUESTIONS LISTED FOR DISCUSSION INCLUDE:
I URGE THE CONGRESS AND ALL DELEGATES TO USE THE TIME WISELY so that at the end of our deliberations the mood of expectancy which exists both within and without our party would be justified.
TRIBUTE TO OUR STALWARTS
Finally, I want to pay tribute to all our stalwarts who have left this earthly plane over the past two years since our last Congress. Many of our good and faithful soldiers have fallen. They, however, made significant contributions while they were with us and their contributions will never be forgotten. A special session of Congress will be identified when we can identify them by name, recognise their contribution and pay tribute to their memories.
I would also like to pay tribute to those stalwarts who are still with us,who despite age and other difficulties have continued to work solidly in support of the Party. I refer first of all to Dr. Ptolemy Alexander Reid. Despite age and other difficulties he is never missing from major Party occasions. We must therefore send a special team from this Congress to find out the reasons for his absence and to also wish him well.
TRIBUTE TO OUR LEADER
I also want to pay tribute to a man who has served this party with distinction for years; a man who I know felt that he had fought a good fight and that the time had come for him to hand over the baton; a man who despite those convictions answered the call of his comrades and who, I believe, has been persuaded to carry on for a while longer. I refer to none other than our own Leader MR H.D. HOYTE. Our Leader, has served this Party for several years. I hope he will forgive me today, but I believe that one should not wait until a person is dead to pay tribute to them.
Some time earlier this year our Leader whispered to some of his close colleagues that he was ready to demit office. He later confided with me the time he had identified to do so. Quite frankly comrades, I was deeply concerned when he disclosed this information to me because it was at a time when Guyana was faced with so many difficulties and problems. Those economic and political problems, and, indeed, the crisis still exists. I believe that in such a situation we need strong and determined leadership. What therefore we need at this Congress, if you insist that our Leader must carry on, is the resolve to identify a band of strong and united persons, a team, to give our leader the necessary support and keep the Party strong and united.
I thank you again for coming to this Congress, I have faith that in our usual tradition we will have a successful event. Enjoy the lighter moments of Congress. Enjoy the social exchange. Don't forget, however, the important agenda which we have before us so that, come Sunday afternoon, we can report to ourselves, to our members, on whose behalf we have been delegated to be here, and to Guyana as a whole that we deliberated and are ready to offer a new and bright vision for the future of this country and creating opportunities for success.
Thank you very much and welcome to you all.