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Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert told a PNM crowd in St Joseph Pennelope Beckles-Robinson could not be the leader of the Opposition, according to the Constitution. Imbert, who is running for the post of vice-chairman on Rowley’s slate, was speaking as the warm-up act for the Leader of the Opposition at St Joseph Community Centre on Wednesday night and took the opportunity to attack Beckles-Robinson and others on her slate.
First ripping into Beckles-Robinson’s hopes of leading the Opposition into the 2015 general election, Imbert said that under Section 83 of the Constitution, “which says there shall be an office of Leader of the Opposition and the appointment must be made by the President… he may, if the person wishes, appoint the member of the House of Representatives who, in his judgment, is best able to command the support of the greatest number of members of the House who do not support the government.”
Beckles-Robinson, removed by Rowley as a senator, is not currently a member of the House and will not be until 2015 at the earliest. If she wins the internal leadership election on May 18 she would not be able to represent the PNM in Parliament. The party would therefore need two leaders, one of them a parliamentary leader. “She needs to tell the PNM and the country what she intends to do about that,” said Imbert. He asked: “In the Penny paradigm, who would be the leader of the Opposition? I want Penny to tell us.”
Mocking cries of “NiLeung, NiLeung” were heard from the crowd. Imbert said: “There's one MP who has been following Penny around, NiLeung Hypolite. “So consider this, if Pennelope Beckles-Robinson is political leader, NiLeung Hypolite is leader of the Opposition. “The only people who would benefit from a tragedy would be the UNC,” said Imbert, “and I want Mrs Beckles to tell us why she wants to subject the PNM and the country to this fiasco.”