September 25, 2016

APNU/AFC did not ask me to resign – embattled Georgetown Councillor

Winston Radcliffe Trevor Harding being sworn-in as a Councillor

Winston Radcliffe Trevor Harding being sworn-in as a Councillor

Child sex molestation charges…

… PNC GS differs, says integrity demanded it

By Alexis Rodney

Controversial A Partnership for National Unity /Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) member Winston Harding, who has been accused of molesting a minor and who his party had withdrew its support from, was on Friday sworn-in as a City Councillor.

Harding was among the 30-member council who took their Oath of Office before Town Clerk Royston King.

He made this headway although a string of allegations were laid against him of sexually molesting a minor years ago. Calls have been made for his removal and that of his fellow party member and current Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence who openly supported him.

When approached by the media following his appointment on Friday, Harding said he would not be resigning. He maintained that he had no intention of stepping down, although various groups and organisations have requested that he do so.

President Granger and the People’s National Congress are still to make an official pronouncement on the matter but which now seems settled.

Harding contested and was successful in the recently held Local Government Election; after word got out that he had sexually abused a minor, his party had soon after pulled its support from him.

Clarke differs

Meanwhile, General Secretary of the People’s National Congress (PNC) Oscar Clarke, whose party Harding belongs to, told another section of the media that had he been in Harding’s position, he would have resigned from the post.

“I would resign! You know why I would have resigned? I would have resigned because in my heart of hearts, I know that the accusation against me is one I should not put myself forward,” he told an Online News agency Friday

He said it is up to Harding to give “this a lot of thought”.  Is he going to be able to get the support of the people out there that he is serving? How are they going to look at him?” he asked.

The PNC head said he would not utter anything to Harding about him stepping down. “I personally would not ask him. I tell you, I leave it to people’s conscience. He doesn’t do anything to me and he wouldn’t prevent me from doing what I have to do in this council,” he told the media outfit.

Following mounting pressure from the public and other stakeholders, the APNU/AFC coalition was forced to withdraw its support from the embattled candidate, who it was said, had faced multiple charges of child molestation.

Harding, who was never convicted for the alleged sexual offences, was listed as the party’s representative for Georgetown’s Constituency 13 (East and West Ruimveldt) in the March poll.

The party in a release had said that as a result of the alleged behaviour of Harding and the pattern of accusations over the years, his candidature could not be supported.

The coalition also posited that the party is “firmly against all forms of abuse especially the abuse of women, children and the elderly. The Partnership takes seriously all allegations of abuse that are made against its members and supporters. In our 2015 manifesto, we clearly state and affirm that the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act must at all times be enforced without compromise or exception… APNU is cognisant of the fact that Mr Harding has not been convicted of any offence, but the gravity and nature of the accusations cannot be ignored or condoned”.

The coalition’s withdrawal of the embattled candidate however, did not affect his performance as many persons in his constituency supported him at the polls.

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