Tomorrow is decision day for the people of Tobago as they move to elect a new Chief Secretary for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
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Rowley under attack
Leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Dr Keith Rowley came under attack from a new pressure group within his party, as the group intends to challenge Rowley for leadership of the party. To Preserve the Balisier (TPTB) co-ordinator Dr Bose Sharma told a meeting on Thursday night that Rowley had sidelined party members because of their support for former leader Patrick Manning. Sharma was the PNM’s defeated candidate for St Augustine in the 2010 general election.
About 100 people attended the 90-minute meeting at Pinto Community Centre in Arima, including former Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation chairman Patricia Mejias. The PNM national executive election is due by the end of March, but the date has not as yet been announced by Rowley. Sharma said the rules for the election is to be released shortly by PNM general secretary Ashton Ford.
He did not name the candidate the TPTB was supporting against Rowley for the party’s top position, saying only that the person will be announced “very shortly.” It will be the first election under the one-man-one-vote system, and Sharma thanked Rowley for ensuring that the new system replaced the former delegate system of voting.
Sharma said the party’s first three leaders—Dr Eric Williams, George Chambers and Patrick Manning—all had a vision for the PNM and Rowley must now tell the party what is his vision for the country’s oldest political organisation. “Our leader is not talking, he just shove everybody aside. It seems like we have a one-man show again. He is not coming and telling us what he will do. He is not coming to party group meetings and sitting with party group chairmen and so on.”
Sharma said members cannot dissent from Rowley in general council meetings and he had been unable to meet with Rowley for the past two years. Sharma said he was disappointed in Rowley for attacking him at a PNM meeting in D’Abadie on Tuesday night, saying Rowley was engaging in “politics of vengeance.” After the 2010 general election, he said, Rowley asked him to help set up a new information technology system at Balisier House.
Sharma said he got the best international IT experts and submitted a report to Rowley. Sharma said the cost was put at US$350,000, but he told Rowley people were willing to cover it and all that was required was hotel accommodation for the experts from abroad. But, he said, Rowley never got back to him and attacked him at the meeting, saying it was Sharma who wanted a contract from the party to supply IT to the PNM. “If Rowley was called a raging bull,” he said, “I am his matador. I will eat him raw.”
Sharma also claimed Rowley had prevented an initiative in the party to supply glasses to poor people within the PNM. The TPTB was seeking to preserve the truthfulness and energy of the party, Sharma said, and under Rowley’s leadership the PNM was crumbling. PNM members “know what leadership is,” he warned, “so you can’t fool us with your brand of leadership if it is not pushing the PNM forward.” He said Rowley was just engaging in tokenism by bringing in one or two Indians to decorate it.