Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 9th 2014 Contents A5
February 9, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
STORIES BY RENUKA SINGH
As the race for political leader of the Peo-
ple s National Movement (PNM) heats up,
fresh conflict and race allegations are causing
a sharp rift in the membership.
Penelope Beckles-Robinson, who recently
got the axe as a senator, confirmed only on
Friday that she had leadership aspirations,
and already the two factions of supporters
are adding to the tension within the PNM
The Sunday Guardian understands that
party leader Dr Keith Rowley will face a Beck-
les-Robinson-led slate that includes former
Senate president Danny Montano and MP
for Diego Martin Central Amery Browne, who
intend to contest the posts of chairman and
general secretary, respectively.
While in a surprise move the PNM women s
league has thrown their support behind Row-
ley.In a telephone interview on Friday, group
vice chair Irene Hinds boldly stated that Row-
ley had her vote.
The Sunday Guardian was told that the
women s league met to discuss the upcoming
elections late on Thursday night, and came
away with a unanimous decision to support
Hinds said she could not discuss internal
party business but confirmed that she and
the majority of the women s league planned
to vote for Rowley on May 18.
"I have one vote and Dr Rowley has it. I
can also say that for the majority of the mem-
bers of the women s league," she said.
"I am positively voting for and devoted to
Dr Rowley as the leader of the PNM," she said.
Rowley labelled the 'next Mugabe'
Other party members have described a
bitter and no-holds-barred smear campaign
brewing between Rowley supporters and those
Weeks before the official nominee deadline,
another longtime financier of former leader
Patrick Manning has returned to the PNM
fold, throwing his support behind Beckles-
Robinson, and has voiced a concern that
Rowley would be the "next (Zimbabwe pres-
ident Robert) Mugabe" if he won the elec-
Sunday Guardian learned that one of the
party s former financiers said if Rowley won
the internal election, he would "leave the
"He said Rowley would be just like Mugabe
and that (East) Indians will lose what they
have and will be made to eat grass," one
The source said the names of three long-
standing and high-ranking East Indian PNM
supporters---former Health minister Jerry
Narace, Errol Mahabir and Lenny Saith s---
were called in that rant.
The former financier claimed those three
were used by the PNM.
But with the race card being dealt as the
PNM prepares for new internal elections,
an old batch of PNM supporters and financial
backers have returned to roost under the
Beckles-Robinson banner. Party members
and Manning supporters who were said to
have "fled under the Rowley administration"
have returned to the party after Beckles-
Robinson secretly announced she was con-
testing the leadership.
The Sunday Guardian understands that
a Beckles-Robinson supporter has been send-
ing messages to Rowley through various col-
leagues, announcing his game plan to return
to the executive of the party, even from
behind the scenes.
"He said he was coming back to beat
Rowley to a frazzle," one Rowley supporter
Narace: I'm not Penny's campaign manager
Narace, sources said, is Beckles-Robinson s
In a telephone interview with the Sunday
Guardian on Thursday, Narace said, "I am
not her campaign manager. In fact I do not
know if she has declared her hand."
When asked if he was affiliated with her
bid to become leader, Narace repeated his
first statement then added:
"If and when I have something to tell you,
I will call you and tell you."
Beckles-Robinson on Friday met with
Rowley at the Parliament building to officially
inform him she will be challenging him for
race heats up
...Rowley labelled 'the next Mugabe'
Dr Keith Rowley
While the acrimony
coming out of the
PNM has surprised
many, at least two
analysts are saying
that this is just par for
Prof Dr Selwyn
Ryan, in a telephone
interview, said the cur-
rent Dr Keith Rowley
vs Penelope Beckles-
Robinson battle "pales
in comparison" to the
1996 fight between
Rowley and then party
leader Patrick Manning.
However, Ryan said because of an imbedded phi-
losophy within the PNM, he did not expect the
fight to be too bitter.
"All the internal party elections we have had has
been acrimonious, the last one between Rowley
and Manning was also fiercely contested," Ryan
Ryan said even the recent race allegations is
"The thing has been calm and even gentle com-
pared to what happens in the UNC (United National
Congress) and COP (Congress of the People) internal
elections," he said.
He said the PNM would continue to have a "little
rumbling" internally until the elections.
"I am not concerned," he said.
2015 a big year for politics
Politicians are also gearing up for the 2015 general
election, which Ryan says will impact on the conduct
of internal elections. He described 2015 as a "big
year" for politics.
"Everybody has to deal with their internal elec-
tions first, and I don t expect that to be a church
service. It will get noisy," he said.
With the UNC s decision to put their own internal
elections on the back burner until the party con-
stitution is completed, Ryan said he saw that as
a "tactical decision."
"It was a tactical move designed to take the pres-
sure off," he said, adding that he did not believe
that was done to let the PNM elections take its
Ragoonath: East Indians in PNM
were unsure during changeover
Fellow political analyst Bishnu Ragoonath, mean-
while, agreed with Ryan s analysis and predictions.
"Both parties are preparing for general election
and have to deal with the internal issues first," he
"They need to deal with those issues, elections
as early as possible," Ragoonath said.
He said the PNM never had an election under
the new one-man one-vote and was interested in
seeing how it worked.
With regards to the recent reports of a race issue
in the PNM, Ragoonath said during the changeover
from the Manning administration to the Rowley
administration, East Indians within the PNM were
unsure of what the new management would mean
"I think several took a backseat to look on
and see how things were unfolding, they did
not leave the PNM, but they were not at the
fore," he said.
He said it was now up to those supporters to
decide what role they would play in the election.
Ryan on party wranglings:
It's par for
Prof Dr Selwyn Ryan
The Clico Policyholders Group (CPG),
led by Peter Permell, yesterday said it was
"deeply concerned and disappointed" that
all of Clico s 56 per cent shareholding in
Methanol Holdings Ltd (MHTL) is expected
to be sold to Consolidated Energy Ltd.
That move follows a decision by the ICC
International Court of Arbitration late last
Permell said that matter should have been
in the public domain since November last
year. He is now calling on Finance Minister
Larry Howai to issue a "comprehensive state-
ment on the matter." Permell said Howai
needs to "explain his silence and the impli-
cations of the court s decision."
The group, in a release yesterday, is also
"equally concerned with the seemingly blasé
manner in which this matter of great national
importance has only now found its way into
the public domain."
Permell said information from note 37 of
the Clico 2012 audited financial statements
published on Friday, should have been avail-
able to Finance Minister Larry Howai and
others in authority from as early as November
18, last year.
"In fact, we distinctly recall on November
19, 2013 in the Senate, notwithstanding a
direct question from then Opposition Senator
Fitzgerald Hinds relative to this matter, the
Finance Minister failed to disclose this material
development," Permell said. Permell said back
in March 2009, then Finance Minister Karen
Nunez-Tesheira approved a proposal from
then CL Financial corporate secretary, Gita
Sakal, to transfer 6.541 per cent of MHTL
and 7.529 per cent of Methanol Holdings
(International) Ltd (MHTIL) to Clico.
"This caused Clico s stake in MHTL and
MHIL to increase to 56.531 per cent and a
57.429 per cent respectively. The purported
share transfer was in exchange for the dis-
charge of a $1.13 billion debenture that Clico
held over the fixed and floating assets of its
parent, CL Financial," he said.
"However, our research reveals that while
a sale did occur...to date those shares have
never been legally transferred to Clico," he
said. The group, Permell said, wants answers
Clico policyholders disappointed over plans to sell Methanol shares
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