The election bell has been rung and both the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) and the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) have asserted that they are ready for the November 4 St Joseph by-election.
The PNM was shouting its readiness from the moment Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced the election date in the Parliament yesterday.
“We ready! We ready!” said members of the Opposition prompting House Speaker Wade Mark to say “Allright, I am ready now!” as he called the House to order provoking loud laughter from all sides.
In a telephone interview, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said the PNM has a process in place and now that an election date has been called will follow that process to select a candidate.
He said the party’s Constitution has a time limit in place for this and on Monday nominations will be called and screening will follow.
Former minister in the Ministry of Finance Mariano Browne and Opposition senator Terrence Deyalsingh were two names that have been in the public domain as potential PNM candidates for the St Joseph seat.
Questioned on this, Rowley responded, “Every member of the PNM is entitled, we will follow our process.”
Rowley said the PNM was confident of victory.
Also expressing confidence of another victory was Jack Warner, ILP’s interim political leader.
Warner was successful in sweeping the Chaguanas West by-election in July.
He told the Express yesterday that another win was in the green bag.
“I think the Prime Minister learned from the Chaguanas West by-election when she dragged it out to her peril, so now she want to bring it as early as possible hoping that there will be a reverse situation this time... that will not be the case because the ILP will also win St Joseph,” Warner said.
“The ILP is more ready than any party in this country,” said Warner when asked if his party had already selected a candidate.
He said the ILP’s candidate will be presented to the public by October 15.
Warner said the people of St Joseph will not forget that they are now in a by-election because the Government could not accept former MP Herbert Volney joining the ILP.
Warner claimed that party affiliation was an issue with respect to St Joseph but members of the COP were now seeking to “ratify” UNC members to contest the local government elections in corporations which were allocated under a COP ticket.
Warner said the UNC will lose St Joseph and he was not worried about the PNM.
“I don’t think with Rowley being the leader of the PNM I shall have cause to worry, and I say this not because I don’t like Mr Rowley but because that is the perception of the public,” Warner said.
Contacted yesterday on the November 4 St Joseph by-election date, Volney told the Express he was celebrating his departure from the Parliament.
“Whether she (Persad-Bissessar) calls it early or she calls it late, the UNC will not win it, so she may as well get it over with,” Volney said.
“If she had her way she would have called it on the same date as the local government elections and suffer one embarrassment rather than two,” he added.