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Rowley on Penny’s dismissal: It wasn’t because she posed a threat to me
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley is dismissing claims that Pennelope Beckles-Robinson was fired as a senator because she posed a direct threat to his leadership of the party. Rowley responded to questions yesterday during his last news conference for the year at his office on Charles Street, Port-of-Spain. Newly-appointed Opposition senators — Avinash Singh, Diane Baldeo-Chadeesingh and Camille Robinson-Regis — were presented to the media.
President Anthony Carmona revoked the appointments of Beckles-Robinson and Fitzgerald Hinds as senators from midnight on Tuesday. They were the most experienced Opposition senators. Former Opposition Senator Terrance Deyalsingh is now the MP for St Joseph. Many people have claimed on radio talk shows that Beckles-Robinson was removed by Rowley because she was expected to challenge him for leadership of the 57-year-old party when national executive elections are held early next year.
“That is not the basis on which the change was made,” he said yesterday. Rowley said: “In decisions as to who stays and who goes, one would take everything into account but the most important thing is that we are looking ahead. Whatever we do is with respect to improving our position as we go forward.” He said her removal as a senator was “not the end of anything” as Beckles-Robinson remained “a member of the leadership. She is the head of the Women’s League and one can hardly get more important in the PNM than that.
She is also lady vice- chairman of the party. Rowley said the speculation regarding her dismissal were “interesting reading, interesting thought but not the whole story.” If there was one thing he had done as leader of the party, he said, it was to “open up the party to give members full control of its leadership and prevent incumbents from dominating the internal election process.”
Rowley added: “If that is all I have accomplished in the PNM, then I will go happily thinking I have made a significant change.” That objective was accomplished, he said, by the introduction of the one-man-one-vote system in the party. He also said he would be “removing myself as the incumbent and creating a vacancy so members — for the first time—can determine who is the best person to lead the party into the imminent general election.” Rowley said that right was never available to PNM members before he assumed leadership.
He said the matter should not be personalised.
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