A group of casino workers facing unemployment from the pressures proposed tax increases for the gaming sector took their protest to the home of Finance Minister Colm Imbert yesterday morning.
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Oudit declared ILP leader
The Independent Liberal Party (ILP) will be looking at parties within the People’s Partnership (PP) coalition to forge an alliance for the 2015 general election. The ILP will also be looking at political parties outside the coalition too. This was disclosed yesterday by new leader Lyndira Oudit in response to questions from the T&T Guardian. Dismissing the Congress of the People, Oudit insisted the ILP, based on the results of last’s years local government elections, is T&T’s third political force and is far from dormant.
“The ILP is the option after the PNM and the UNC,” she said. Asked if the party will join forces with the PNM or United National Congress (UNC), she said they will be looking at the parties within the PP. But an alliance with the PNM, with whom the ILP recently marched in a Port-of-Spain demonstration organized by the Joint Trade Union Movement, does not seem likely, Oudit said.
“The PNM has indicated it is a stand alone party, win or lose. Therefore, there can be no accommodation there.” Asked about the perception the ILP was joining with the PNM because members participated in the march, Oudit said it was not a PNM march, even though the PNM appeared as the largest group. “It was a labour march in which many groups took part. We marched near the Agriculture Society. It was a misconception it was a PNM march,” Oudit said.
Oudit was declared ILP leader on Monday as she was nominated uncontested for the post in the party’s internal elections scheduled for June 29. As leader, she said she will be seeking to fulfill the party’s vision, which is to follow in the footsteps of coalition politics around the world. “I don’t believe any one party has answers. I believe many parties can work together,” Oudit said, adding this type of coalition politics was parallel to proportional representation.
Asked if she was prepared to lead a political party, Oudit said she believed she was well poised. Her experience as a former ILP deputy leader was her training, she said, since she was closely involved in the running of the party. She said she was involved in drafting the ILP’s constitution, preparing its manifesto and organizing meetings. “I also served as deputy political leader under the UNC. Yes, I believe I am very well poised to take up the mantle,” she said.
Asked about the sudden emergence of female leaders on the political scene and what this indicated, Oudit said leadership is not a gender issue. “A good leader is neither male nor female.” She observed, though, that it meant T&T was maturing as a society. She said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar did not do it by herself, but would have been propelled by people around her.
Noting she supported Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan’s bid for leadership of the COP, she said T&T seemed to be breaking from a tradition that kept women segregated. “We have already broken the race barrier,” she said, recalling former ILP leader Jack Warner’s stint as UNC chairman, which was supported by a large segment of the East Indian population.
Oudit based the ILP’s strength on the 102,000 people who voted for the party in last year’s local government elections. She said there was a lull in the party after that (many members pulled out and returned to the UNC), but they picked up good steam in January and have been quietly holding cottage and platform for change movement meetings across the country. About 200 people have been attending the meetings, Oudit said. This was a good sign, she felt.
“To pull anybody out his house during the week, especially in a rural area, says something.” Oudit said the COP, part of the PP coalition, will certainly have to answer for its stewardship in the Government over the last four years. She added, “But I wouldn’t colour any judgment on anybody seeking office now.”
Oudit was put forward as leader after Warner, former FIFA vice-president, stepped down and indicated he was contesting the post of chairman. He, too, was declared chairman on Monday after no other candidate contested the position. Warner, former UNC national security minister and incumbent Chaguanas West MP, formed the ILP after he broke ties with the UNC and the PP last year. His move came after a damning Concacaf report which told of financial impropriety in the organization during his tenure there.