Guyana’s Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey C. Norton, his Facebook page, and brewing voters’ list dispute

Aubrey C. Norton was elected an MP in April 2022 by-election and sworn in as Leader of the Opposition. Starting out as a youth leader, he served as foreign affairs bureaucrat, party official, then a political appointee to the youth ministry. He won the party leadership of the People’s National Congress Reform in December 2021.It is an established left of centre party which has help power several times. While a multiethnic party, it has its roots in the Afro-Guyanese community.

In Guyana, the Leader of the Opposition is a constitutionally recognized position. The same is true in Canada, but evidently not throughout the Commonwealth. For example, I was surprised to learn it is not recognized in India. (Further study necessary but a possible advocacy project.)

On August 2, 2020, the People’s Progressive Party won the 2020 General Elections. Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, a senior development expert and former minister, was sworn in as President and appointed retired Brigadier General Mark Phillips as Prime Minister of Guyana. Guyana started out with a ceremonial president but that lasted through one incumbent. The President is elected at large and appoints the Prime Minister an MP.

Norton heads a coalition APNU+AFC which holds 31 out of the 65 parliamentary seats.

In September 2021, the Office of the Leader of the Opposition (OLO) started a Facebook page for the leader. It stands out for its regular postings, clean design, and community service as well as the usual criticisms of the government. it stands out as an example to other OLOs, whether an OLO uses Facebook page or another platform doesn’t make huge difference. There is a trade off between ease of use and options for customization.

The latest political issue in Guyana involves opposition protests as to the quality of the voters’ list. The Opposition in any country has reason to makes the integrity of the list a priority. The new head of the election commission GECOM, Vishnu Persaud, is a respected veteran electoral official, who has vowed to deliver an acceptable list.

Opposition International would welcome a correspondent from Guyana to help keep our readers abreast of the coming showdown.

A distinguished lawyer acquaintance in Toronto, also named Persaud (no relation to Vishnu) and who grew up in Guyana speaks highly of Guyana’s vibrant media. Anyone interested? Telegram @OPL137