Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 1st 2015 Contents A2
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 1, 2015
The campaign for leadership of the United
National Congress (UNC) is gaining
momentum for challenger Dr Roodal
The Sunday Guardian has confirmed that
former education minister Dr Tim
Gopeesingh has turned his back on former
prime minister, incumbent Kamla Persad-
Bissessar, and is adding his name to Moonilal s
Gopeesingh, in a brief telephone interview,
confirmed that he would make an announce-
ment today at a media conference at the
Radisson Hotel, Port-of-Spain, but the Sun-
day Guardian has also learnt that Gopeesingh
is expected to announce his bid for the chair-
manship of the party on Moonilal s slate.
This building support base comes even as
the Persad-Bissessar camp remains silent on
her bid for re-election.
This fresh hit on the Persad-Bissessar
camp comes even as two former UNC mem-
bers add their voices to the chorus of dissent
directed against Persad-Bissessar.
The Sunday Guardian contacted Persad-
Bissessar yesterday, but once the paper iden-
tified itself the call was disconnected.
With the internal fight heating up, former
UNC members said that whoever wins the
internal elections will have the mammoth
task of rebuilding the entire party from the
Party founder Trevor Sudama, who spoke
with the Sunday Guardian about the current
grab for power within the UNC, said while
he has not been following the internal elec-
tions "too closely," he did not support Per-
sad-Bissessar s bid to return to lead the UNC.
"I think Persad-Bissessar should resign,
if for nothing else for being part of so many
lost elections," the UNC founder said.
He cited several international cases where
political party leaders resigned the top post
once they failed at the polls.
But Sudama said losses aside, Persad-
Bissessar needed to put the life of the party
"The party needs new blood, new life. It
needs to start back from the ground up and
get back in touch with the people," Sudama
He recalled back in 1988 when he, former
prime minister Basdeo Panday, Kelvin Ram-
nath and John Humphrey were ousted from
the National Alliance for Reconstruction
(NAR) and started "walking the ground" to
start the UNC.
"That is the main issue here, I think. Per-
sad-Bissessar got caught up in the public
relations image of herself and lost touch with
the ground, lost touch with the people who
supported her," he said.
He said the UNC, when it began contesting
elections, worked hard to establish inroads
in the hard-to-win constituencies.
"Now you have the party losing not only
the marginals but seats like Moruga/Table-
land, you have failed as a leader in my opin-
ion," he said.
Sudama said under new leadership he
might become more involved in UNC politics,
but only if a new leader took the party back
to the grassroots.
"The UNC needs to get back to its core
constitution," he said.
Sudama said Persad-Bissessar made a
grave error by giving the People s National
Movement three months advance notice of
the general election, but gave her own can-
didates only three weeks to campaign.
Sudama was referring to the UNC s only
naming its election slate some 21 days before
the general election.
"I think the reasoning was two-fold. One,
she wanted the surprise factor, to surprise
the electorate, and two, she wanted to stymie
the dissension inside the party," he said.
With just three weeks before nominations
close, only deputy political leader Dr Roodal
Moonilal has so far thrown his hat into the
ring to challenge Persad-Bissessar.
"I don t know if Moonilal is the one to
bring back the party, but it cannot be Per-
sad-Bissessar," he said.
Another former UNC member calling for
Persad-Bissessar to step down is her own
former security adviser, former minister of
national security Gary Griffith. Griffith, while
not saying who would do a better job, said
Persad-Bissessar should step down.
"If you look at the loss of support over
the five years, you could see that she has lost
over 100,000 votes. Over 100,000 people
turned their backs on her," he said.
He said the previous Congress of the
People supporters would never support the
UNC if she remained as political leader.
"There is now a rush to have internal
elections right before the local government
[elections] because she does not want to
sustain too many losses," Griffith said.
Griffith could not say whether Moonilal
was a better bet for political leader.
"That s up to the internal electorate, I
don t know if he has that backing," he said.
Successive media reports have established
that Moonilal may not have the popular
support that Persad-Bissessar still main-
tains. Panday was reported as predicting
that Moonilal would lose the December 5
of UNC leader
Social activist Ravi Maharaj yesterday apol-
ogised to UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar
for posting on Facebook a photograph of her
Maharaj, in a press release issued yesterday, asked
Persad-Bissessar for forgiveness, stating that he
was "provoked into taking aggressive action" on
social media, after he posted a superimposed photo
of the former prime minister sporting Dracula
Infuriated by the photo captioned "The scariest
thing this Halloween is to see Kamla returned as
Leader of the UNC," supporters of Persad-Bissessar
criticised Maharaj s action.
"I take full responsibility for the statements I
made and all consequences that are inherent within
them," Maharaj stated in the release.
"Persad-Bissessar, I am also forced to expose
these same persons to whom I referenced, in so
much as they themselves are now admitting that
they do not support the UNC so much as they
follow you directly. While this strategy was used
in the general election campaign, to poor effect,
in an attempt to Americanize our campaign, this
attitude should be discouraged and publicly
denounced by you. Not only does it contradict
your campaign of uniting the party, but it also
threatens to split the UNC forces of the results of
the internal election."
Maharaj said as an avid supporter and defender
of the UNC, he did not agree with some of the
decisions made during her campaign.
"I still stained my finger in support of you. To
have to engage in this battle today is tearing a hole
in my heart that may never heal and it s the provo-
cation of your supporters that led to its conception
and my emotional response, and for that I once
Maharaj said it was disheartening to see the
UNC being torn apart by people who lacked loyalty.
More calls for
Kamla to step down
MP for Oropouche East Dr Roodal Moonilal addresses his party supporters as he announces his intention to contest the leadership of the UNC on Friday night. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Links Archive October 31st 2015 November 2nd 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page