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Rowley: I’m captain of the PNM ship
Relected leader of the PNM Dr Keith Rowley arrived at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain, last night wearing a red PNM T-shirt with the words Keep Calm and Vote PNM and his sailor hat. In a brief interview with reporters, Rowley said he chose to wear the hat because: “I am the captain of this (PNM) ship.” This caused the small crowd assembled to scream in excitement. Rowley said based on the trend of votes tallied he was expected to be confirmed as leader of the 58-year-old party in its historic one-man-one-vote election yesterday.
Rowley said there were some hiccups during the election as it was the first time the election was conducted under the new system. He said the process was slow initially but the Elections Supervisory Committee intervened and cleared up the bottlenecks resulting in a subsequent smooth flow of the process. He said based on the preliminary results “it appears as though party members would have voted wisely.”
He said he remained very optimistic of a resounding election victory and the results showed the party was very energised. He said yesterday’s vote gives a lie to the claim that people were not interested in the process. “today’s election has the look and feel of a general election,” he said in congratulating his supporters.
In response to questions on healing within the party, Rowley said that was “only required when there are wounds and sores. The PNM does not carry wounds and sores, we now walk with a spring in our step and we look forward to the days ahead.” He said effective today the party will be addressing general election issues.
Asked if he would be working with his challenger, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, Rowley quickly responded: “I will be working with every party member in the PNM I expect to be leader of the PNM and we don’t have two categories of members.” Minutes after Rowley’s comments ambassador to the UN Rodney Charles, who is expected to manage the UNC’general election campaign next year congratulated him on his victory.
“While we congratulate Dr Rowley on winning the internal elections, we also hasten to add that he now has a duty to actually lead, rather than simply attack for the sake of attacking,” Charles said in a prepared statement. Rowley has had a free ride for four years, Charles said. “But now, he needs to very quickly learn that general elections are not won by attacking but by telling citizens how you intend to manage the nation’s affairs, improve the quality of their lives and provide the well paying jobs that they need.”
Charles also congratulated Beckles on a “well-run, issues-focused campaign” and for “proving that in spite of the present internecine warfare and serious divisions within the party, there is some hope for change in the PNM Opposition.”