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People's National Congress

The PNC was formed in 1957 when Forbes Burnham broke away from the PPP. The PNC represents the country's Afro-Guyanese community and many of Guyana's intellectuals. The PNC was supported by most of the colony's Afro-Guyanese population in the cities (including most government employees) and in the bauxite mining areas. Outside Afro-Guyanese ranks it had virtually no following, and among many middle class Afro-Guyanese its support is not firm.

In the 1961 election it polled 41 percent of the vote and won 11 seats in the legislature. PNC policy has been largely that of opposing the PPP. What can be said of PNC policy if it were to form a government must be based largely on Burnham's statements and on the content of his party newspaper. The PNC in office would feature a more moderate policy of domestic socialism than the PPP. Likewise, in the foreign field it would also be neutralist but somewhat less pro-Bloc than the PPP.

On 3 June 1964 Linden Forbes Burnham, leader of the People's National Congress (PNC), proposed in the Legislative Assembly that a three-party coalition government be formed to run British Guiana until elections are held under proportional representation (PR) later this year. Burnham's reasoning for suggesting a coalition now with the People's Progressive Party (PPP) and the United Force (UF) was that it would lessen tensions and allow for more vigorous police action to control the situation. He further believed that acceptance of an interim coalition would mean that Premier Cheddi Jagan had acknowledged PR as the voting system.

The PNC was the main partner in the coalition government formed in 1964 and had been the outright winner of every election held since then. The party held fifty-three seats after the 1980 elections. After the 1985 elections, the PNC held fifty-four seats in the National Assembly — forty-two elected seats and all of the twelve appointed seats. The party came under the leadership of Desmond Hoyte following the death of Forbes Burnham in 1985. Executive President Hoyte declared that his predecessor's policies had bankrupted the country and that the PNC would again encourage private investment.

Ideologically, the PNC swung from socialism to middle-of the-road capitalism several times. Although Burnham professed leftist views, the party originally adopted a pro-capitalist policy as an alternative to the PPP's socialism and to attract members of the Afro-Guyanese middle class. In the mid-1970s, Burnham stated that the PNC was socialist and committed to the nationalization of foreign-owned businesses and to government control of the economy.

President Jagdeo announced to the nation 21 July 2006 that general elections will be held on August 28. The following day, opposition leader Robert Corbin said the People's National Congress (PNC) will contest the elections, grudgingly, rather than follow through on its threat to boycott. In the 28 August 2006 election, the party was stuck with Robert Corbin as leader - a man whose well-known history as a rapist and an enforcer under Hoyte and Burnham prevent him for winning many votes outside of Afro-Guyanese.

Corbin revealed a real lack of enthusiasm for the election and hinted at various excuses the PNC can feed its supporters if they fall short at the ballot box -- a padded voters list, lack of safeguards against election day fraud, not enough polling stations. None of these excuses holds water, but the PNC leadership was persistent in its efforts to discredit the election process.

The People’s National Congress Reform, in pursuit of its promise to provide ‘a good life,’ established a partnership with four other parties – Guyana Action Party (GAP); Justice For All Party (JFAP); National Front Alliance (NFA) and Working People’s Alliance (WPA) – in July 2011. It adopted the name A Partnership for National Unity (APNU); we adopted the motto ‘a good life’ for all and the symbol, the Open Hand.’ The Partnership – APNU – contested the November 2011 General and Regional Elections gaining 139,678 votes and winning 26 seats in the 65-member National Assembly.

The PNCR, over the four years 2011-2015, established three new institutions to ensure that Forbes Burnham’s ideas continue to inform current leaders and inspire future generations:

  1. The Burnham Education Scholarship Trust (BEST) promotes education of the young. BEST, every year, awards bursaries to children from each region, who have passed the National Grade Six Assessment examinations;
  2. The Burnham Book Trust (BBT) publishes and reprints the texts of Forbes Burnham’s Congress addresses and other major political speeches, which express his ideas and the evolution of our Party.
  3. The Burnham Research Institute (BRI) preserves the works and conducts research into the Founder-Leader’s ideas and life. The BRI enables researchers and scholars to study and discuss Forbes Burnham’s life’s work.

These organisations are essential to understanding the PNCR’s policies and the Founder’s vision for the transformation of Guyana.

The PNCR, together with its partners in the APNU, took a step forward when it reached an agreement with the Alliance for Change to form a coalition. The historic Cummingsburg Accord was signed on 14th February 2015. This Accord combined the energies and strengths of six political parties in a pre-election coalition for the first time in Guyana’s political history. The APNU and AFC, at the General and Regional Elections held on 11th May 2015, gained 207,201 votes and won 33 seats.

The 19th Biennial Delegates Congress of the People’s National Congress assembled 26 August 2016.

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Page last modified: 14-05-2017 18:32:55 ZULU