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Pennelope can face sanction
If a complaint is made to today’s People’s National Movement’s (PNM) general council about lady vice-chairman Pennelope Beckles-Robinson’s recent appearance at a United National Congress (UNC) curry-duck lime, it will have to be discussed before any decision for disciplinary action or otherwise, says PNM general secretary Ashton Ford. Ford made the comment as he elaborated on the PNM’s latest position on Beckles-Robinson’ move to attend the UNC lime at Debe last weekend.
Both Beckles-Robinson and UNC deputy leader Roodal Moonilal defended it as an innocent invitation to lime with friends, but PNM members were offended by her decision so soon after she was replaced in the Senate. Beckles-Robinson said the Fun Splash park where it was held was owned by PNM general council member Dr Vijay Ramlal and she was in the area and had dropped in.
However, Ford said PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley and chairman Franklin Khan both attended a youth league function held the same day and all members of the executive were told of that function. But, Ford said, Beckles-Robinson didn’t attend the PNM function.
Ford said Beckles-Robinson’s attendance at the UNC lime raised questions about support, particularly in the atmosphere of the impending PNM leadership election. Rules for that will be revealed at today’s general council meeting, but an election date is unlikely to be announced. Khan said the election would be in the first half of 2014.
Ford said: “Attending an event like that, people don’t know where you stand. Ms Beckles hasn’t denied she may be contesting the leadership and she hasn’t denied Jack Warner’s statement that he couldn’t say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ whether she was to be ILP’s St Joseph by-election candidate.”
While Ford couldn’t say whether Beckles-Robinson’s attendance at the UNC event would be discussed at today’s general council meeting, or if she had breached any rules, he said if any complaint on the matter was made to the council, it would have to be discussed and members would have to say whether to send it for disciplinary team scrutiny. Ford noted that the PNM’s constitution bars anyone from appearing on another party’s platform or bringing the party into disrepute. Expulsion is automatic for those breaches, he said.
He said the PNM central executive last week expelled a woman for being a south candidate for the New National Vision party (led by Fuad Abu Bakr) in the recent local government polls. Ford said Beckles-Robinson’s attendance at the UNC event was different from Rowley’s attending the funeral of Nelson Mandela with the Prime Minister, since that was state business. Beckles-Robinson didn’t answer calls yesterday.
But Dr Bose Sharma, of the To Preserve the Balisier Group, which intends mounting a challenge to Rowley’s leadership, defended Beckles-Robinson’s attendance at the UNC event. Sharma said: “If you can’t fraternise casually with people, what is politics and rights of democracy coming to in T&T? Dr Rowley can go to South Africa with the Prime Minister and be pictured with her at various events, smiling, yet Mrs Beckles can’t attend a social event?”
Sharma, who said the group is still examining candidate choices, said it wants to hear what the PNM’s election rules will be, as well as a date for the poll, before announcing its selection. “TPTB would like fair, free and transparent elections, proper voters’ registration process, timely issue of the voters’ list to candidates and for irregularities to be dealt with speedily,” he said. Sharma said the group didn’t want the election to degenerate into open warfare as the UNC’s did in 2010.
“Guidelines are necessary since we’ve already heard one radio host warning about ‘files’ he has on Mrs Beckles and the like. Some are acting as if there shouldn’t be any contesting candidates, but that wouldn’t ensure democracy,” he said.
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