Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 5th 2015 Contents YVONNE WEBB
Over 95,000 eligible members of the United
National Congress (UNC) will go to the polls today
to vote for one of three candidates contesting the
post of political leader, as well as a new executive.
Later tonight, Chairman of the Election Management
Committee Dr Rampersad Parasram hopes to declare
whether the incumbent Kamla Persad-Bissessar has
retained her position as political leader or whether
one of her challengers---Dr Roodal Moonilal or Vasant
Bharath---has dethroned her.
At a news conference held at the party s Rienzi
Complex, Couva headquarters, yesterday, Parasram
said, "We expect the process to be smooth and seamless
and we expect preliminary results late Saturday night."
In anticipation of any problems, a command centre
with ten hotlines has been established at Rienzi to
deal with any issues that may arise during the day.
In response to the questions of omission of some
names from the official list and some appearing out
of their constituencies, Parasram reiterated that there
was only one official list.
He said a window was left open for such omissions
to be corrected during November 15-22 and, for those
who used the opportunity to do so, applications were
sent to the membership committee by the parties and
a final list was sent back to them.
He said people should vote wherever their names
appeared. He said once the name appeared on the
list, the member was over 18 and had a photo iden-
tification, either national identification, passport or
driver s permit, that person could cast his or her vote.
Parasram said the committee had tried to keep the
entire process open and frank and had responded to
all concerns raised, meeting with candidates and their
representatives on at least two occasions.
"I want to think that the playing field is level and
I wish all the candidates all the best."
Yesterday, representatives from all 41 constituencies,
including Tobago, were on hand at Rienzi to collect
ballots and ballot boxes.
Parasram said voting would take place from 8 am
to 6 pm, at 35 polling venues, with 167 booths manned
by election staff.
He said staff have been trained and given their
instruments and yesterday final physical arrangements
were made at the various locations.
A total of 57 candidates are contesting the internal
elections, the first in five years.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, December 5, 2015
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Presiding officers of the Oropouche West
constituency leave the UNC's headquarters in Rienzi
Complex, Couva, with ballot boxes yesterday, in
preparation for today's internal elections. From left
are Kelly Jaglal, Andrea Bullock and Chandra
Ramkith PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Election chief: Expect results tonight
All systems go for UNC's polls
Political pundits were
yesterday unable to
forecast the results of
today s United National
Congress (UNC) inter-
nal elections, citing the
unavailability of polls as
one reason and the pop-
ularity of both incum-
bent leader, Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar, and her
contender, Dr Roodal
Moonilal, as another.
Political analysts Dr
Winford James and
Maukesh Basdeo, in
response to T&T
Guardian questions on
the matter, were clear
and unanimous on one
thing---the UNC fought
a surprisingly clean fight.
who had from the begin-
ning insisted that former
UNC Senator Vasant
Bharath, the third con-
tender in the race for
UNC political leader, was
the best candidate, said
today s results would be
difficult to forecast.
James said he was not
a man of emotions and,
hence, needed scientific
polls to make a proper
"I am not aware of any
official polls conducted.
In the absence of such,
it s difficult to forecast.
There s no point being
He did note, though,
that Moonilal and Per-
sad-Bissessar had com-
pelling arguments as to
why they should be
drawing on her record
during her term as polit-
ical leader, questioned
the intent of her chal-
lengers, James said.
"She is asking are they
genuine, pointing out
Bharath and Moonilal
came from within her
team but are ungrateful
and not trustworthy.
"But, of course, this is
something the voters will
have to decide."
Moonilal, on the other
hand, was countering
that in her five years,
Persad-Bissessar did not
strengthen the party s
institutions and lost five
elections, James said.
"He said the party
needs rebuilding and he
has the experience."
Analysts on UNC internal elections
Political analyst Basdeo, of the political science
department of the University of the West Indies, was
vague about how he felt the UNC elections would
turn out later today.
Giving a hint, though, he said, "From what I have
been reading and seeing, it is clearly a race between
Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Dr Roodal Moonilal.
"Moonilal will put up a good challenge."
Bringing the gender factor into the picture, he said,
more women seemed prone to vote for Persad-
Bissessar rather than throwing their support behind
Basdeo said what made forecasting the results
more difficult was the fact that it was difficult to tell
if the UNC membership would vote for "straight
slates or across slates."
"For instance, they may vote for a chairman from
one slate and the deputy political leader from
He said if members voted "across slates" they
would send a signal to the party's leaders they must
Basdeo said today's results would be the first
indicator of the state of the UNC.
"And in the coming weeks and months, we will get
a better idea of whether sitting MPs on opposing
slates will come together."
As to whether the campaign was a bruising one
for contenders, Basdeo said compared to the brutal
January 2010 UNC internal elections this one was
more civil, even though "some jabs" were thrown.
In 2010, Persad-Bissessar challenged then UNC
leader, Basdeo Panday, for the position.
Basdeo said there was a lot of mudslinging in that
campaign, at the end of which only Moonilal from
Panday's slate emerged victorious.
BASDEO: CAMPAIGN WAS CIVIL
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