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People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley drew battle lines on Wednesday night, urging supporters to “choose wisely” when they go to the internal polls on May 18 and not put “square pegs in round holes.” His call came as Pennelope Beckles-Robinson formally announced her candidacy for leadership of the PNM at Mayaro and hours after she held a media conference on Wednesday cementing her bid for the post. Rowley welcomed his challenger during his campaign for leadership at the Friendly Society Hall, Prevatt Street, Marabella, He assured supporters he had no “ill feeling” towards any officer or anyone aspiring to office. In fact, he said, Beckles-Robinson’s candidacy showed the strength of the party. “It is a strong and healthy party where there is vibrancy, with people wanting to contest. When people offer themselves we ought to recognise their efforts and thank them for offering themselves to serve,” he said.
However, he cautioned members not to make hasty decisions in choosing a leader as that would be the person to take them into government in 2015. He added: “The decision falls to you to choose wisely among those who are available to you. “There is no point saying ‘yes, we have choices, we have democracy,’ and you choose square pegs to put in round holes. “You look at what is available to you and you make sensible decisions and put the square pegs in the square holes and the round pegs in the round holes and choose the best man or the best woman for the job.”
Rowley, who was elected to lead the party up to 2015, said he stood by his decision to call an early internal election. He said the PNM would not be “fractured” but strengthened coming out of the election. “Once you do that (choose) without rancour and without ill-will, everything is going to be all right. “The election will not be a problem for the party, it will be a boon to us. It will be a mobiliser, it will be strength in this organisation that would conduct an election. “I tell you, if you cannot conduct an election in your party you have no right running this country,” he added.
Rowley pointed out at Wednesday’s meeting the party’s PRO Faris Al-Rawi sat next to his challenger for PRO, Pointe-a-Pierre chairman Andrew Alves at the head table and there was no friction.
Rowley, who was endorsed at the meeting which was attended by PNM stalwarts Joan Yuille-Williams, Malcom Jones, Gerard Ferreira and former Pointe-a-Pierre MP Christine Kangaloo, said the election would mobilise supporters for next year’s general election. He reminded supporters that they have a serious decision to make and they must participate in the election. “All this talk of one-man-one-vote, amending constitution, all that will come to naught if you do not take the responsibility as party members and coming out and take that responsibility of choosing who you want to run your organisation. I have placed my faith in you,” he said.
Rowley’s Slate So Far
At the meeting Rowley presented part of his slate, which included:
Franklin Khan: Party chairman.
Faris Al-Rawi: PRO.
Camille Robinson-Regis: Lady vice-chairman.
Foster Cummings: Elections officer.