Political scientist: UNC elections not free and fair

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With the lead­er­ship of the Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) up for grabs, po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Dr Shane Mo­hammed says any­one seek­ing to de­throne po­lit­i­cal leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar has to beat her at her own game.

Speak­ing on CNC3’s The Morn­ing Brew on Mon­day, Mo­hammed said there were no free and fair in­ter­nal elec­tions in the Op­po­si­tion par­ty for the last decade.

Per­sad-Bisses­sar an­nounced that the par­ty would hold its in­ter­nal elec­tions on June 26 dur­ing a meet­ing on Sat­ur­day.

«I make no apolo­gies for say­ing this, and I am speak­ing from a po­si­tion of ex­pe­ri­ence, that the UNC in­ter­nal elec­tions un­der Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar have nev­er been free and fair from in­ter­fer­ence,» Mo­hammed said.

Break­ing down the UNC in the past decade, he said Per­sad-Bisses­sar had vi­o­lat­ed the par­ty con­sti­tu­tion through­out her tenure as the po­lit­i­cal leader. He said she had failed to fol­low pro­to­cols and be­lieved that be­cause she is an at­tor­ney, she and on­ly those at­tor­neys in the par­ty had the moral au­thor­i­ty to in­ter­pret the par­ty’s con­sti­tu­tion.

How­ev­er, Mo­hammed said the con­sti­tu­tion, au­thored by for­mer at­tor­ney gen­er­al Ramesh Lawrence Ma­haraj and for­mer prime min­is­ter Bas­deo Pan­day, is easy to un­der­stand.

He re­called that be­tween 1991 and 1994, Pan­day con­veyed that one did not need a for­mal ed­u­ca­tion to rep­re­sent the peo­ple and ap­point­ed cane cut­ter Do­ra Bridge­mo­han to the Sen­ate. Bridge­mo­han, he not­ed, was in­stru­men­tal in wage ne­go­ti­a­tions and labour laws.

Per­sad-Bisses­sar be­came the UNC leader af­ter de­feat­ing par­ty founder Bas­deo Pan­day in 2010. She then led a coali­tion of par­ties to a gen­er­al elec­tion vic­to­ry against the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment (PNM) months lat­er. Even af­ter los­ing suc­ces­sive gen­er­al elec­tions, the par­ty has re­tained her as the leader.

How­ev­er, Mo­hammed said that Per­sad-Bisses­sar did not show the ca­pac­i­ty, re­silience, vi­a­bil­i­ty and con­fi­dence to car­ry on as a strong op­po­si­tion leader and po­lit­i­cal leader in the last few years.

He cit­ed that dur­ing her Mon­day Night Fo­rum speech last week, there were cer­tain words she could not pro­nounce be­cause of an ap­par­ent speech im­ped­i­ment.

He be­lieves Per­sad-Bisses­sar’s chances of re­tain­ing par­ty lead­er­ship de­pend on the re­alpoli­tik sys­tem, in which mem­bers choose prac­ti­cal prin­ci­ples rather than moral con­sid­er­a­tions.

Oropouche East MP Roodal Mooni­lal fought for the par­ty lead­er­ship in 2015. Af­ter los­ing then, he said there were many elec­tion ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, he not­ed.

Mo­hammed be­lieves Mooni­lal has a chance if he con­tests the up­com­ing elec­tions, as he has the ca­pac­i­ty and charis­ma. He said Mooni­lal was at­tempt­ing to re­brand him­self and his im­age, which any­one as­pir­ing to lead­er­ship would do.

How­ev­er, Mo­hammed’s con­cern was that if Mooni­lal beats Per­sad-Bisses­sar at her game, he could be­come a di­rect tar­get of the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment.

He may suf­fer the same fate as Pan­day with the ac­cu­sa­tions of cor­rup­tion against his name, which would tar­nish his rep­u­ta­tion and di­min­ish his vi­a­bil­i­ty as a po­ten­tial prime min­is­te­r­i­al can­di­date, he said.

Mo­hammed be­lieves for­mer min­is­ter of health Dr Fuad Khan as a po­lit­i­cal leader and for­mer na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty min­is­ter Jack Warn­er as chair­man could, in fact, help the UNC re­build.

He said their hu­mil­i­ty and abil­i­ty to re­late to peo­ple were ide­al for the task. He added that they were re­al­is­tic peo­ple who would not fab­ri­cate lies and in­nu­en­dos for po­lit­i­cal sur­vival and would give ca­pa­ble and ex­pe­ri­enced young peo­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties.


LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian


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