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Kamla, Prakash talk PP’s future
People’s Partnership leaders are expected to meet by weekend to discuss last Monday’s Chaguanas West by-election defeat by former colleague Jack Warner and the PP’s way forward, Partnership officials said yesterday. Sources also told the T&T Guardian the defeat was not discussed during yesterday’s Cabinet session but will be dealt with over the next few days in various other party forums, apart from the expected Partnership leaders’ meeting. The meeting is expected after tomorrow’s parliamentary opening session when PP leaders—from Tobago as well as Trinidad—will be present. If schedules did not allow that it was likely to take place next week, sources said.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar met yesterday with Congress of the People (COP) leader Prakash Ramadhar but with no other Partnership leaders, the T&T Guardian learned. After Monday’s by-election results, Ramadhar spoke that night, even before the PM, calling for an early meeting of PP leaders to determine its direction. He said then the COP already had formulated options and proposals to engage citizens but first needed to engage partners on that. Following yesterday’s post-Cabinet media conference when Government unveiled several measures to assist Chaguanas, Central Trinidad and other parts of T&T, UNC MP Rupert Griffith said the party’s national executive would meet on Monday to decide how the party would move foward. COP executive officials were also in the process yesterday of pulling together an executive meeting before weekend on the issue.
Asked how the UNC would deal with the post-election defeat yesterday, UNC deputy leader Suruj Rambachan said: “The UNC will soldier on. As the Prime Minister has said there will be introspection and if this suggests there has to be changes, I am sure the changes will take place.” He declined to say if that would include any cabinet reshuffle or similar changes elsewhere. Rambachan added: “In a democracy people were free to decide who they wanted to represent them and if they decided they wanted Jack Warner, then let’s hope they made the right choice.”
Rambachan declined comment on views by certain PP members, including UNC MP Winston Peters, TOP leader Ashworth Jack and the PM’s national security adviser Gary Griffith, that the PP should consider bringing Warner back into the Government.
Griffith (Gary), who resigned from the UNC in June, yesterday said: “Whether or not to bring Mr Warner into the Partnership is strictly a decision among the four PP parties, as no one party can claim to be senior to the other. They all have 25 per cent shareholding. “Now is not a time to divide and fight but to mobilise all PP supporters, including the 12,642 who voted ILP but may still support the Partnership. We need to circle the wagons.” However, UNC MP Rupert Griffith, when asked about the implications of the defeat for the party and whether it could recoup credibility, said: “We really need to focus on what exactly has transpired, in that the former MP, whose ability to serve was not questioned by anyone, received almost 19,000 votes in 2010 yet he only received just over 12,000 when he won on Monday. “It cannot be denied, dismissed or detracted from that there was a marked decline in the number of his supporters.”
Asked if the UNC might summon a national congress or assembly to discuss the issue with members or seek a mandate from them, Griffith said that was not planned. On the perception that the defeat was an indictment on Persad-Bissessar’s leadership, Griffith said: “I don’t share that view and I haven’t heard anyone, no, not even on our team, say that. We stand behind the Prime Minister. She’s our leader. We respect her and her ability and she keeps the team intact.” Until the PP’s direction was worked out, the UNC’s Monday forums were on hold, the T&T Guardian was told.
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