Stabroek News

`I am tired’ - Lawrence says on decision not to contest for PNCR leadership


Current Chairperso­n of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Volda Lawrence has finally broken her silence in relation to contesting for the leadership of the party at its 21st Biennial Delegates Congress, saying that her name would not be appearing on any ballot paper owing to “personal reasons”. Lawrence, on the sidelines of a press conference yesterday to provide an update on the congress, told reporters that her decision is one that was made in the interest of her health and the best interest of the party. She explained that for the five years that the APNU+AFC Coalition was in government where she served as Minister of Social Protection and subsequent­ly Minister of Public Health, she has seriously neglected her health.

“I have been working for as long as I could remember and when I was Minister I never took leave, even though I was ill. So I am just taking some time for myself and my family…I don’t want to be in this race, I am tired,” she told the press.

In 2017, Lawrence was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent three surgeries that year. Additional­ly, she underwent chemo and radiation therapy without taking a leave of absence. She now says that the decision is taking its toll on her and she is taking a step back from the leadership roles.

When the PNCR held its nomination day on November 12, Lawrence received nomination­s for Party Leader, Chairperso­n and Vice-Chair but never publicly indicated whether she had accepted or declined.

When asked whether the decision to step back is one that is temporary or permanent, she clarified that her decision to run is not her taking a step back rather it is a means of availing herself more time to focus on her roles as Chair of the PNCR’s Georgetown District and the Women’s Arm. Lawrence sees herself in an advisory capacity now.

“I think the party has been able to have a lot of young people mushroomin­g off and I want to be there to guide them. So I see myself at this stage in my life, not in the hectic frame but more of an advisor/guider. I want to be able to do my work too which is a lot of social work. I am doing a lot right now and I feel like I can do a lot more. There is so much need in the country all around and so I want to do me,” she said.

Leader of the PNCR

David Granger has taken a leave of absence from the party and Lawrence is filling in. Questioned as to whether she is throwing her support behind any particular candidate, she said “I don’t have a horse in the race. I decided from the inception after the leader proceeded on leave that if I am going to be the person who is going to be guiding this process that I should try to walk that middle line. I believe in talking the talk and walking the walk. I don’t want to tell people what they must do and I don’t do it.”

“So as far as I can to my own ability, I have kept out of endorsing anyone, putting anything on Facebook. I have been there for everybody dealing with all the complaints, all the hiccups. I am the problem solver… I want to be able to pick up the phone and call any candidate, and if you know me I am tough love and say come here and pull you in for fitness,” she added.

Lawrence added that when she goes into the voting booth on Saturday, she will make a decision “that is in the best interest of the party.”

The PNCR’s congress will commence at 9 am on Saturday with voting starting at 11 am and closing at 7 pm. With the coronaviru­s pandemic and its limitation on large gatherings, the PNCR would be hosting simultaneo­us elections across the country at approved locations.

The party said that its elections will be conducted in two stages with the results for each stage being declared before moving on to the next. Stage one would see the election of the Leader, Chairman, two Vice-Chairperso­ns and Treasurer while the second stage is for the election of members to the Central Executive Committee.

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Volda Lawrence

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