Outgoing Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday starts packing to move out of the Opposition Leader's office, as incoming Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar today discusses reinstatement of two fired Opposition office employees and axed Senator Lyndira Oudit.
Panday yesterday confirmed preparations to move out of the Opposition Leader's Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, office. Panday added: "I don't have much to pack, just a few files." Persad-Bissessar also confirmed yesterday reinstatement of fired Opposition office staffers Colin Partap and Dave Tancoo and former Senator Oudit would be discussed at today's UNC parliamentary caucus. Panday said he would not attend the caucus which deals with Persad-Bissessar's impending appointment as Opposition Leader. "I don't believe it would serve any useful purpose," Panday added. Persad -Bissessar on the weekend finally obtained the necessary majority of votes of support from UNC MPs to become Opposition Leader. This was supplemented yesterday with further support from UNC MP Vasant Bharath,making it a total of nine of the 15 UNC MPs sanctioning change in the post.
A letter indicating the support and seeking the change will be sent tomorrow to President George Maxwell Richards, after today's caucus. The letter is being sent exactly a month after Persad-Bissessar wrested the post of UNC leader from Panday in UNC's January 24party election. Persad-Bissessar said yesterday she was not sure if she would be sworn in as Opposition Leader in time to take up the Opposition Leader's chair at tomorrow's sitting of the House of Representatives or Friday's House sitting. "But it will be this week," she added. Also to be discussed at today's caucus are new seating arrangements in the House for Panday after Persad-Bissessar is sworn in as Opposition Leader.
Sources said Panday may be placed to sit on the left side of Persad-Bissessar in Parliament and all other UNC MPs would move down one seat. They added that UNC Senator Oudit and Opposition office employees Partap and Tancoo–whom Panday replaced and fired respectively recently – would be reinstated by Persad-Bissessar. Asked about it, Persad- Bissessar confirmed consultation would be held on those issues at today's caucus. Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said she had noted a comment from Panday that he would not be attending today's caucus to discuss the various issues. Other MPs, including Couva South MP Kelvin Ramnath and Tabaquite MP Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, also said they would not attend. Several UNC Senators, appointed by Panday, said yesterday they could not attend today's 3.30 pm caucus either since they had to attend today's Senate session. UNC MP Dr Hamza Rafeeq, recuperating from recent illness, is on leave from Parliament until mid-March and overseas.