The Opposition United National Congress (UNC) will hold its internal elections on June 26.
This was announced by the party’s political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Saturday. Persad-Bissessar’s statements came after the party’s national executive met on Friday.
In making the announcement, Persad-Bissessar said she wanted to get the party elections «out of the way» so the UNC would be ready to meet the People’s National Movement at the polls for the Local Government Elections due between December 2022 and March 2023.
«Normally you don’t hold internal elections when there is a national election and we know our elections are due internally by the end of the year, but we can’t do it then because of what is happening at the end of this year–Local Government Elections by law, so let’s get our party election out of the way,» Persad-Bissessar said.
«Today I put everyone on notice, the UNC is ready to take Government and the UNC is ready to save Trinidad and Tobago.»
She said nomination forms for the election would be available from May 25. After the internal elections, Persad-Bissessar said the UNC would focus on its Women’s Arm and Youth Arm elections.
The meeting was the first public one the party has held since the COVID-19 pandemic, and its supporters came out in their numbers. After she finished speaking, Persad-Bissessar was joined by several of the Opposition’s MPs on stage. Several local artistes, including Kern «Trinidad Killa» Joseph and Kerry John, joined them, serenading the supporters who were still gathered.
After taking photos with supporters who seemed eager to meet with her, Persad-Bissessar spoke to members of the media.
Asked if she was worried about the internal elections creating a rift in the party, Persad-Bissessar said she would leave it to God.
«Do I look worried? Our party is very strong and very united, and it is the democratic thing to do so we will hold the elections. I have no fear, everything is in the hands of the Lord,» she said.
During the party’s internal elections in 2015, Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal and Vasant Bharath both opposed Persad-Bissessar for the post of political leader. The campaign leading up to the internal elections had turned dirty quickly, with supporters being pulled in three different directions.
But when the polls closed, Persad-Bissessar managed to hold on to the post, garnering 1,250 votes, with Moonilal getting 160 and Bharath getting 84.
Asked to address rumours that she would contest the post of political leader unopposed, Persad-Bissessar said she would only know when nominations are closed.
Moonilal said on Saturday that he has no intention of running against Persad-Bissessar this time around.
When Persad-Bissessar was asked whether she hopes to lead the party into the next general election, she said, «God willing, God willing.»
Questioned about possible successors to the post within the party, Persad-Bissessar said every member of the UNC has a fighting chance.
«Each member of the UNC has a democratic right to try to become leader and there is nothing wrong with that, I welcome it, I have a lot of bright young people,» she said.
However, she was adamant that she has not been grooming any successor.
«I cannot do that, that will be like I am her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, I’m not. This is a democracy, so you don’t groom anyone, that is for dictators and kingships and queenships. We have a democracy in our party and every person has a chance to become the leader of the party or a member of the National Executive, no I am not grooming any person,» she said.
LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian