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PNM polls postponed

Sunday, August 12, 2018

After word that former frontline PNMites are preparing to contest the PNM’s internal elections, comes news that the elections will be postponed to September 30 instead of being held on September 16—and this week’s planned nomination exercise has also been postponed to early September.

The PNM last month said the internal elections—where the leadership and 15 executive posts are contested—would be held on September 16. Nominations were expected from tomorrow to Friday.

A statement on this was issued on August 3.

But PNMites who went to collect nomination forms last Friday were told the date is being changed to September 30—when PNM’s convention will be held—instead of September 16.

Elections team head Murchison Browne, to whom PNM assistant general secretary Daniel Dookie referred queries, said yesterday he had not received official word on the elections but also heard they were being postponed to September 30.

PNM PRO Stuart Young did not reply, but PNM hierarchy officials claimed the decision to postpone the poll was due to the CPL cricket tournament.

They said PNM’s General Council would officially pronounce on polls and postponement at next week’s meeting. The nomination period had also been postponed to September 3-7, they added.

Nomination forms were also being changed.

While incumbents are defending posts or seeking others, challenges are looming in several of the 15 executive posts: chairman, vice chairman, general secretary, assistant general secretary, elections, field and youth officers.

Challenges to these posts are expected from previous officials including ministers of the Manning PNM.

But so far, challenges are not looming for PNM’s leadership held by Keith Rowley. Sources said talks several months ago by a group on contesting certain top posts fell apart. They felt the time was not right to challenge the leadership.

‘T&T isn’t progressing’...Mariano, others contesting Manning’s former minister of finance Mariano Browne did not confirm if he was contesting the vice chairmanship held by Finance Minister Colm Imbert, but said “I’m actively considering contesting a senior post, yes.

T&T isn’t progressing. Basic institutions are collapsing—what does that say about the party? It’s not functioning at the level it’s supposed to. Big ticket items—hospitals, roads—don’t move a country forward, it’s organisational discipline and keeping institutions growing.”

Dismissing “economic turnaround” talk, Browne said Government could not spend enough money on police to solve crime, social services were deteriorating, and breakdown was occurring in schools.

“Nor is a party about reward distribution. It’s about understanding and getting people to understand what they need to do to make a country great—start there,” Browne said, adding much needed to be done.

Former elections officer (2003- 2011) Linus Rogers, who is contesting the post again, said he had been observing PNM’s situation.

Now a retired engineer, he said he had more time to help strengthen the PNM.

“Leaders treat with direction, but we must keep the ‘ground’ in touch. PNM is structured as a ‘ground-up’ party. We need more involved members. Once we adhere to PNM’s foundation and Constitution, we’ll be much stronger for it,” Rogers said.

One of PNM’s first Social Media team members Dane Wilson, contesting the Social Media Officer’s post (against incumbent Ronald Huggins), said: “PNM s needs to get back on track and get its message across. That’s not being done effectively. Members feel disconnected from decision-making processes, alienated—as if what they’re saying isn’t being heard.

“Members want the PNM to operate as promised while in Opposition— particularly with opportunities.

Whether they’re right or not, people feel like PNM has been hijacked. If people contest posts, it’s because we all want to return PNM to togetherness in the movement.

“PNM is a grassroots party, not elitist. People want to help the leader. We recognise he needs that support. Recent by-elections tell us the party needs to embrace the Mariano Brownes, the Nafeesa Mohammeds, the Nileung Hypolites in this critical stage facing national elections ahead. PNM has its own identity and needs rejuvenation.”

On speculation that former Manning’s public administration minister Mustaha Abdul Hamid was contesting (chairman), sources said: “Nomination day will provide all answers.”

East PNMites hinted that another former minister, Roger Boynes might contest for general/ assistant general secretary.

San Fernando East executive member Abigail Cox was contesting assistant general secretary, it was confirmed.

Couva businessman Nal Ramsingh who has contested posts previously and is contesting field officer now, said: “I have a contribution to make to keep people together and organise constituencies for polls ahead. Everyone knows me, I’m friend to all. It’s up to people if they want to be friends with me.”

Also contesting the post of field officer is Point Fortin mayor Abdon Mason. He said: “PNM is preparing for 2019 and 2020 elections. I bring commitment to ensure troops are well mobilised.

Our leader needs the right kind of support around him—people of excellence and history of committed service. I have 33 years in PNM. It’s functioning well. Excellence is always something to continue aspiring to.”

Young did not reply to queries on if he was defending his post.

His PRO’s performance was criticised by a committee chairman at the PNM’s convention last November.

Young ‘s party post is his fourth job, apart from those of Minister of Communications, National Security, and in the PM’s office.

Rowley will address the PNM’s “Family Day” at Chaguanas at 4 pm today.


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