…says election as chair a resurrection for party…pledges to nurture youths to take over leadershipBy Jarryl BryanWith the dust of her historic election as Chairperson of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) settling, Volda Lawrence has an eye to the future. According to the Public Health Minister, a significant task will include nurturing the youths to take over the party.In an exclusive interview with Guyana Times, she spoke about her ambitions for the party and what her election represents for the party. According to Lawrence, who won by 346 votes at the 20th Biennial congress, her election represents a resurrection of the PNCR.“In terms of the base, I think this is PNC alive, where you start at the group level and can work your way up to the chairmanship of the party. I think this is bringing back some nostalgia to them. I can say for the Georgetown environment, people have been meeting me and saying, oh I feel so good, I remember this congress and so. I think that something has come alive in our party. And I want to keep that going.”On the matter of her short and long-term goals, Lawrence explained that this includes improving the accessibility of the electorate to its leaders. The party chair explained that this must therefore include not only herself but the entire leadership.“Also, I want to ensure that our youths are trained and nurtured to take over the party. And to continue to work with our women, to ensure that they have knowledge that they can be what they want to be and to show them how to do it.”“So I’m looking to work with those three categories of people. Leadership, youths, and women to ensure that we do all the things we’re supposed to be doing, on a wider scale,” she stated.HistoryLawrence, a chartered accountant by profession, has a long history with the PNCR. While in Opposition, she served as the Shadow Minister of Human Services and Social Protection.In fact, that was her ministerial designation during the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) initial tenure in Government, before being moved to public health.She clinched victory at the Congress in front of former Chairman, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams; and fellow contender, Minister of State Joseph Harmon.Harmon got 287 votes while Williams secured 183.The election was a historic one within the PNCR since not only was a female chairperson elected for the first time but the party is also voted for a female Vice Chairperson in Junior Public Infrastructure Minister, Annette Ferguson, who secured 260 votes. On the other hand, Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton was elected the 2nd Vice Chairman with 242 votes.There has been much discussion about potential presidential candidates for the main political parties come 2020 elections.While the People’s Progressive Party has indicated that its presidential candidate will be announced by year end, Lawrence’s election as Chairperson puts her in a strong position within the party should President and PNCR leader David Granger not seek re-election.For his part, President Granger hinted that he would not refuse the offer if called upon to run as the presidential candidate for the upcoming 2020 General and Regional Elections. During a press conference last week, Granger shied away from directly answering whether he would accept a nomination to run as the presidential candidate at the upcoming national polls, which is expected to be a critical election for the country.“I cannot answer that question at this point in time, it is speculative, but I am a servant of my party, I’m a servant of the partnership, I’m a servant of the coalition and my duty is to serve and I will not run away from service; that is as much as I say,” he said.The Head of State went on to outline that he became the presidential candidate for both the APNU and then the APNU/AFC (Alliance For Change) coalition via a democratic process and several steps, which he will have to abide by in the future.