Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 8th 2015 Contents A5
March 8, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
"No Penny, no vote!"
That was the warning yesterday from several
chairmen of Arima People s National Move-
ment (PNM) party groups representing units
that unsuccessfully nominated former MP
Pennelope Beckles-Robinson for the candidacy
of the constituency for the forthcoming general
They heatedly expressed views yesterday---
along with PNM constituency executive elec-
tions officer Bobby Charles--- following a meet-
ing on Thursday of members with the Arima
constituency executive. Views were also aired
on some social media after the meeting.
The Arima executive met members on
Thursday to report to them on the February
25th meeting held by PNM chairman Franklin
Khan with the executive, in which calls for
Beckles-Robinson to replace selected candidate
Anthony Garcia were discussed. Executive
officials said they were told the decision on
Garcia was irreversible.
Members speaking to the Sunday Guardian
yesterday represented party groups 6, 7, 10,
13, 18 and 31, as well as the other 24 groups
which nominated Beckles-Robinson, they said.
Charles is a well known Arima PNM stalwart
and Beckles-Robinson supporter. He said
Thursday s meeting passed a resolution to
send a letter this week to PNM leader Dr Keith
Rowley, appealing for him to meet Beckles-
Robinson and for "mediation." He said they
feel this is necessary to "heal" the situation
and ensure Arima gets a winning candidate
and the PNM wins government.
Terrence Issac and Judson Reid said mem-
bers were concerned the democratic process
concerning members rights and views was
being" trampled upon."
"In 2015 we re getting the same response
from the leadership we got in 2010. Nil. In
2010 when we didn t get Penny, we went along
with it, but in 2015 after a second round, we re
concerned that what happened in Arima in
2010 will happen again now unless it s fixed,"
If Beckles-Robinson isn t placed in the seat
there would be an inevitable outcome.
"... No Penny, no vote!" Sandra Charles,
Bernard Lares, Barbara Ryan and other mem-
bers chorused yesterday.
Concerned PNM could lose Arima due to
the disenchantment, Reid added, "Is trouble
Elections officer Charles said at the February
25 meeting, Khan acknowledged the party was
aware of Arima s importance in elections.
He said: "They know if PNM wins Arima
with the 9,000 votes they re targetting, and
once Arima is backing the party fully, it will
have a ripple effect in the East West corridor.
If Arima isn t strong enough, it could also
affect PNM in the corridor, we have to guard
against that and get corrective action."
He said the party groups comprised 474
people who form networks for Arima campaign
Charles claimed the selected candidate hasn t
even yet "reached out" to the executive which
felt sidelined. He said Garcia doesn t live in
Arima and they would have to take him to
each household to familiarise people with him.
Sandra Charles said the campaign won t be
a "walkover," adding the PNM shouldn t think
it might be smooth sailing due to the People s
Partnership s issues.
Bobby Charles said the areas Garcia s team
are working aren t strong enough to win all
of Arima, since Beckles-Robinson has the
majority of support in many other areas. He
also noted the chairmanship s pronouncement
that Arima party groups were legitimate.
Charles cited the groups success---with
Beckles-Robinson s co-ordination---of the 2013
Local Government polls where the PNM bested
the Congress of the People (COP) in Arima.
The group said their resolution seeking a
meeting of Rowley and Beckles-Robinson was
aimed at a "healing" process, since they felt
the situation between both affected her chance
Ryan added: "Dr Rowley is supposed to be
leader of us all and to lead by example. But
you can t be leader and show gross disrespect
to many in Arima who want a candidate
they ve known, trusted and proven for years.
"How will we get people to campaign for
the new candidate if we failed to get the person
they wanted; or ask people to support our
party when the wishes of our members are
being disrespected in our own party?"
Reid and Ryan said they knew non-PNMites,
including from other parties, who said they
would have voted for the PNM if Beckles-
Robinson contested. They said it would be
difficult to convince people to support the
party since the past PNM administration failed
to do a number of things in Arima while Beck-
les-Robinson was MP.
Ryan said she hoped "good sense prevails
and the leader will let God be his guide, con-
sider where he may have made mistakes and
know it s not too late to fix them."
Trouble in Arima
PNM party groups say no Penny, no vote
Chairmen of Arima People's National Movement (PNM) party groups yesterday giving the
thumbs down to the party's position on Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, whom groups want to
contest the seat. From left (back row) Barbara Ryan, Terrence Isaac, Judson Reid, Sherad
Homer; (Front row from left) Bernard Lares, Sandra Charles and Bobby Charles (Arima
executive elections officer). PHOTO: GAIL ALEXANDER
We can work it out---Garcia
PNM Arima candidate Anthony Garcia said
yesterday he was aware of continuing
concerns being expressed by some members
about his candidacy, and fully intended to meet
with the constituency executive and other
members to try and work the situation out.
Acknowledging there would be hurt or
disappointed feelings in any such situation, he
said he was just allowing people to vent for
now and get it out of their system, and would
be guided by his campaign manager on when
he would meet with members.
He said he was also liaising with senior
members of the constituency executive on the
situation and was confident it would work out
to PNM's political benefit in the Arima seat.
PNM Arima executive chairman Cagney
Cassimire said he expected people to have
views and there are several positions swirling
around on the issue. He said some wanted
Beckles-Robinson and felt their voices weren't
heard and there were others who wanted
Beckles-Robinson but disliked the PP more and
would still vote PNM. He said they also
counted. He said there were also others who
didn't want to vote if Beckles-Robinson wasn't
He said, "It's part of the democratic process
for all voices to be heard if they wish, so one
has to gauge all sides. Come election time
people may bury the hatchet, but the party
should take some polls to see what's
happening here, see what's affecting PNM and
adopt strategies to bring everyone on board.
"We have to wait and see what'll happen.
Also, if the party seeks to woo Penny to bring
her on board is another issue---you can never
Cassimire said the campaign had been rolled
out but campaigning had not yet started and it
was only when campaigning was done, "you'll
know where you are."
Contacted yesterday, PNM PRO Faris Al
Rawi said the Arima executive was fully
behind the party and that democracy in the
party was alive and strong. He said claims of
dissatisfaction among party group members
were a "UNC" distraction.
"As far as I'm aware there has been no
formal complaint lodged with me, but the PNM
is fighting one enemy---that is the UNC,
nothing more, nothing less and we're all
involved in that process," he said.
He said the campaign team was engrossed
in its work in the area. PNM chairman Franklin
Khan and general secretary Ashton Ford didn't
answer cell calls.
Beckles -Robinson also didn't answer calls.
Executive elections officer Bobby Charles said
leave was sought and approved for her to take
time off for private business in the US
following her sister's death.
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