One month after her victory in the UNC internal elections, new political leader of the UNC Kamla Persad-Bissessar is poised to become the Leader of the Opposition.
Addressing a news conference yesterday at the Rienzi Complex, Couva, Persad-Bissessar said she planned to dispatch a letter to President George Maxwell Richards later today announcing she has the majority of support among Opposition MPs. Eight MPs, including Persad-Bissessar, have so far signed in favour of her. Persad-Bissessar said there should be no change in the seating arrangements when the Lower House meets later today unless someone "voluntary" relocates. However, she expected that by Friday she should be in the seat that is currently held by Basdeo Panday, the Couva North MP. Persad-Bissessar said yesterday's Parliamentary caucus was filled with healthy, candid and open discussion on the matter of the Opposition Leader position but more particular on the way forward for the party.
Persad-Bissessar said she took the opportunity to discuss a way to pay tribute to Panday for his contribution.
When asked how, she said: "You cannot pay tribute to someone who does not wish tribute to be paid to, so certainly we will have to ascertain Mr Panday would be so willing." However, she made it clear that the UNC was not planning any exit strategy for Panday who she said was an elected MP who continued to represent the people of his constituency. She added: "He is still a member of the UNC and I have no doubt he will continue to contribute to the development of the party. "On the issue of an exit strategy we are proceeding on a false premise on a false assumption that Mr Panday would be exiting.
"Until I am told otherwise, I am not of the view that Mr Panday would be in such exit-mode at all." Persad-Bissessar said she has not spoken with Panday. As to why some MPs did not show up for yesterday's meeting, she said the party's general secretary received an e-mail around 2.20 pm from Ramesh Maharaj, but was unable to read it. She said Kelvin Ramnath sent and e-mail on Monday listing his concerns about the meeting held in his constituency on Monday night. She said that meeting was planned sometime ago. St Augustine MP Vasant Bharath did not attend the caucus, saying that he had to attend a funeral instead.
1. Roodal Moonilal
2. Jack Warner
3. Winston Peters
4. Nizam Baksh
5. Tim Gopeesingh
6. Harry Partap
7. Chandresh Sharma
1. Ramesh Maharaj
2. Kelvin Ramnath
3. Mickela Panday
4. Subhas Panday
Vasant Bharath... in limbo
Hamza Rafeeq... out of the country