Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore and the central executive committee has until tomorrow to respond to a pre-action protocol letter from Fuad Abu Bakr, who is challenging their decision to indefinitely postpone the triennial executive elections due to COVID-19.
Indicating his readiness for court, Bakr, of Western Stars Philharmonic Steel Orchestra, yesterday said the decision by the Ramsey-Moore executive was illegal and unconstitutional.
Pan Trinbago’s convention and annual general meeting is constitutionally due this year, but Ramsey-Moore yesterday explained there are two issues affecting this process — the unwillingness by members to become vaccinated against the virus and the reluctance by many to utilise such platforms as Zoom to conduct an election.
During a media briefing in Woodbrook yesterday, Ramsey-Moore said, “This executive will not bow or cower to rogue elements in the pan movement.”
She added, “We are as strong as our membership. They are the ones who have empowered us to be here today and based on our constitution, we are going to proceed with the business of this organisation as we were elected to do in 2018.”
Given the present circumstances, she said it could not be business as usual.
The organisation’s constitution mandates that executive elections be held between September 1 and October 31 every three years.
Ramsey-Moore said, “Our constitution requires personal attendance and according to the constitution, our convention is a meeting that must be convened and after we have received a quorum of 60 per cent, that is the only way we can proceed.”
Gesturing to Bakr and his fellow campaigners as they stood on the pavement locked outside the Newtown Playboyz Steel Symphony Pan Theater on Tragarete Road, Woodbrook, Ramsey-Moore said the decision to postpone the election had created, “some kind of anxiety and strange behaviours to take place” among some factions.
Reaffirming her executive’s readiness for election whenever it is held, Ramsey-Moore said while COVID-19 regulations do not currently permit large gatherings, her executive was ready to account to the membership for the work they had over the past three years.
She denied they had ever seen the likes of $30 million plus, as a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the previous executive, which was led by Keith Diaz, had seen the National Carnival Commission (NCC) retaining full financial control of Pan Trinbago until August 2021.
She argued, “It is important that this executive be given an opportunity to hold a convention as we know it.”
Saying the executive had met with bands in small numbers throughout both islands, Ramsey-Moore said based on based on information received, they want a physical convention.
“They have told us clearly that they do not want a Zoom meeting.”
She added, “We have been having challenges even meeting with members, even by sending emails. None of our regions have held Zoom meetings.”
She attributed this to, “the difficulty with which our members have operating online platforms.”
Saying this was not just one election where one could line up and vote, she said the normal convention usually lasted for between five and six hours before financial members are allowed to vote by secret ballot.
Ramsey-Moore said the decision told hold off the convention was taken in the best interest of the members - of which 70 per cent of members throughout the regions had signed and affixed their band stamps to an endorsement document, supporting the decision to postpone the election.
Responding immediately, public relations officer for the Bakr-led slate Pan Moving Forward, Maurice Alexander, stressed, “The problem is the illegal postponement of the election. The executive presently does not have that authority do so.”
He accused the current executive of flouting Pan Trinbago’s constitution and disrespecting the general membership.
Pointing to the police officers who had been called to remove them, Alexander said it was a sad day that democracy and good sense was not allowed to prevail.
Asked if he agreed with the reasons outlined for the postponement by Ramsey-Moore, he said, “The pan movement in this country is something like 500 bands and to come to that conclusion and get support for it, they have cherry picked who they want to support that illegal action.”