The People’s National Movement (PNM) has chosen business sector supervisor Judy Sookdeo as its candidate for next month’s Debe South by-election and the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) will announce its candidate in the coming days.
The by-election is being held following the death a year ago of Councillor for the area Purshotam Singh.
The PNM announced the selection of Sookdeo yesterday after three nominees were screened virtually for the seat. She is from Duncan Village.
The selection was approved by PNM’s Central Executive.
PNM public relations officer Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing added, “The PNM has participated in every single election in T&T since its inception and the Debe South bye-election is no exception. PNM is committed to offering TT’s electorate a suitable option to be of service to the people.”
It’s so far shaping up to be a PNM-UNC fight.
A UNC statement yesterday confirmed UNC screened its nominees until late Wednesday.
UNC public relations officer Kirk Meighoo didn’t give the number of nominees screened but said the chosen candidate will be announced in the coming days.
“The UNC remains committed to providing the burgesses of Debe South with proper representation.”
“All nominees who offered themselves expressed their commitment and willingness to work with whoever is chosen as the candidate.”
The UNC, which held the Debe South seat, predicted it would win it again.
There’s no word from the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) if the party will contest the by-election after PDP leader Watson Duke recently said the PDP will contest every election in Trinidad.
Neither he nor PDP deputy leader Farley Augustine answered queries yesterday on participation in the Debe by-election.
PNM, UNC killed party campaign finance bill - MSJ
Meanwhile, Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah said the MSJ hadn’t contested Debe South before and won’t be in the by-election.
But Abdulah said a matter of very serious importance is quietly dying in the Parliament as a result of PNM and UNC “collusion”.
He noted the Representation of the People Amendment) Bill, 2020 laid in Parliament prior to the 2020 general elections.
“Prime Minister Rowley presented this with great fanfare, promising that with this Bill, PNM would bring about regulations for political party and campaign finances.”
Abdulah noted the Bill was then referred to a Joint Select Committee of the Parliament - comprising Government and Opposition members plus two Independent senators. But it lapsed due to Parliament being prorogued and August 2020 general elections. It was again introduced in the Parliament in October 2020 and another JSC was established to review it.
The MSJ did a 19-page submission on the 85-page bill but was never invited to meet the JSC.
Abdulah stated a final JSC report on the bill before the first session of Parliament prorogued in 2021, noted work was incomplete on the bill and the JSC recommended resumption of work in the current second session.
Abdulah said, “That JSC didn’t meet for more than six months! Not even one virtual meeting, clear indication that neither the PNM nor UNC is in any way interested in having their party’s finances and, especially, their campaign finances, publicly scrutinised and made transparent.”
“The JSC reported none of the ‘major parties’ (the PNM and UNC) even bothered to make a submission and JSC’s report mentioned no effort to get these two offending parties - which were well represented on the Committee - to submit their views.”
“We condemn the PNM and UNC as they’ve in effect colluded to kill the Bill,” Abdulah said, noting clauses of the bill would have assisted breaking the link between the controllers of economic power (financiers) and the controllers of political power.
“But four months into the Second Session of Parliament no new JSC has been established as the PNM and UNC continue to frustrate the process. This isn’t surprising given the PNM’s huge spending in the December 6th Tobago elections and the Local Government elections due this year. We demand that these two parties immediately set up a new Parliamentary JSC, complete with public consultation and have the Bill debated and passed before the end of June 2022.’’