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Al-Rawi: Penny offers no contest against Rowley

By Rickie Ramdass

TEAM ROWLEY has declared an early victory in Sunday’s People’s National Movement’s (PNM) internal election, the party’s public relations officer, Faris Al-Rawi, has said.
He has also said Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, who is the sole contender against political leader Dr Keith Rowley, has “offered no contest” against Rowley for leadership. The leadership elections are scheduled for May 18.
Al-Rawi was speaking on Saturday night at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, during a political rally that saw thousands of Rowley supporters in attendance.
The rally was held after four months of campaigning throughout 40 of the 41 constituencies in this country.
Today, Team Rowley will be campaigning in the final constituency of Siparia, where Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is MP.
Rowley, the Opposition Leader, and Beckles-Robinson have been battling for leadership of the PNM in preparation for next year’s general election against the People’s Partnership coalition led by Persad-Bissessar.
Al-Rawi also claimed that over the past four years under Persad-Bissessar’s leadership the country had deteriorated with “every Monday morning being bacchanal in T&T under the UNC” because of the choices she made in selecting people to lead various ministries and the country by extension.
“We have witnessed an Attorney General (Anand Ramlogan) running for the hills,” Al-Rawi said.
Saturday’s rally was initially scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., but proceedings did not get under way until 4.30 p.m. when Rowley arrived.
By that time, his supporters had already occupied most of the seating area at the Grand Stand in anticipation of many speakers and entertainers scheduled to take to the stage.
Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert questioned Beckles-Robinson’s record.
Imbert said Rowley’s opponent previously spoke of her track record and that Team Rowley had sought to tarnish that record in the run-up to Sunday’s election, but he questioned the track record of which she spoke.
“When I drive up the highway and I see the Grand Bazaar intersection, I know that I did that. When I see UWI (The University of the West Indies) students benefiting under GATE (Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses), I know I do that. When I drive all over the country from East to West to Central, North and South and I see thousands and thousands of HDC homes. I know that Dr Rowley did that. What track record she have? What she do?” Imbert asked, to a roaring crowd.
As Rowley made his way to the stage around 7.45 p.m. the crowd erupted.
He said it would be no surprise if the Partnership Government were to call a general election this year, if Persad-Bissessar found her party had an advantage over the PNM.
The only way Persad-Bissessar would have this advantage he said, was if Beckles-Robinson was elected as leader of the PNM on Sunday.
“After we win on Sunday, we cannot rest. We will be going to Woodford Square (Port of Spain) on (May) the 23rd. Because we cannot just sit back and think that the general election is quite next year. Legally it is so, but the Government can call an election anytime it sees it has an advantage,” said Rowley.
He pointed out that the winner of the PNM internal election will become the country’s next prime minister, and stated that based on the alleged destruction of the treasury by the current administration and the mishandling of public assets, he intended as prime minister to establish a general accounting department.
That department, he said, would be responsible for investigating the assets of public officials.
“That general accounting office will be able to go into every public department and as soon as they come upon wrongdoing and wastage they present the information to the police... so they no longer have to declare their assets after two and three years (to the Integrity Commission) when it is already done,” said Rowley.
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