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Strategic Move

Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Rowley eyes 2015 after shake-up
People’s National Movement (PNM) senator Fitzgerald Hinds points towards the Government bench while leader of of Opposition Business in the Senate Pennelope Beckles-Robinson looks on, during debate at yesterday’s sitting. This marked the last hurrah for both senators, as their terms ended last night. PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES

Opposition senator Fitzgerald Hinds had his last hurrah in the Senate yesterday, as his appointment was revoked by President Anthony Carmona at midnight. This was one of the shocking developments yesterday, as Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley shook up things by naming three new senators, ending more than two weeks of public speculation on who would replace Terrence Deyalsingh, who was elected MP for St Joseph in the November 4 by-election, and be the party’s other new representatives in the Upper House.



The Sunday Guardian had exclusively reported that Pennelope Beckles-Robinson would be replaced yesterday, so there was no surprise when this was confirmed. But in another shocking move, Rowley not only replaced Hinds, but also broke with the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) 57-year history by naming the defeated candidate in the July 29 Chaguanas West by-election, Avinash Singh, a new senator. 


The other senators named were former TV6 news anchor Diane Baldeo-Chadeesingh, a political neophyte, and former minister Camille Robinson-Regis. An Opposition release said yesterday that Rowley had asked Carmona to revoke the senatorial appointments of Beckles-Robinson and Hinds with effect from midnight yesterday. Rowley will hold a news conference at his Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, office this morning to explain the changes.


During the sitting, government senators, in cross-talk, spoke about the revocation of Opposition senators’ posts. While Hinds was asking several supplemental questions on the $6 million which the Government paid to remove a firetruck which slipped off the road in Blanchisseuse in November 2012, Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj shouted to Hinds: “This is your last hurrah!” Hinds smiled.


Rowley met with Beckles-Robinson on Monday afternoon at Balisier House, where he told her of the move to revoke her appointment. Hinds spoke with reporters about his removal before the sitting yesterday. He said he was not surprised, having spoken about it with the leadership of the party previously.



Hinds said the move was “not a bad thing and I agreed with my leader.” He also said it was part of keeping “an eye on the future blood, new persons, and it is with great enthusiasm and pleasure that I would be willing and quite happy to give way to new blood as we prepare for government in 2015.” Hinds also hinted at a new role in the party. He did not elaborate, but said the leadership has “assigned some party responsibilities to me, which I take with great enthusiasm.”



Beckles-Robinson was seen chatting with many government senators before the start of yesterday’s sitting. Beckles-Robinson, who once fell from grace with former PNM leader Patrick Manning, has also had issues with Rowley, a source said yesterday. In a farewell statement in the Senate yesterday, Beckles-Robinson said she was thankful to the Government, Opposition Leader and the staff of the Senate for making her stay one which she “thoroughly enjoyed.”



“As leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, I am quite satisfied that I have done my best and I will continue to do my best in the interest of my party, the People’s National Movement,” she said in her last appearance in the Senate chamber. PNM PRO Faris Al-Rawi also hinted that Rowley’s move was a strategic one with focus on 2015 yesterday. “The PNM’s position is very simple. We want to win the next election, 2015 is upon us,” he told reporters in the Senate.



Maintaining the move was not to stifle anyone’s ambition to the office of political leader, in reference to Beckles-Robinson’s aspirations to the party leadership, Al-Rawi said, “It is to encourage growth in the PNM. It is to say that we have talent, we have people who are already ripe to face the electorate and I think that Senator Hinds fits that bill so to does Senator Beckles.” (With reporting by Geisha Kowlessar)


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