“trying to win all...”: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, left, responds to questions from members of the media during a news conference yesterday at the Rienzi Complex, Couva, prior to the screening of candidates for the upcoming local government election to be held on October 21. From right are Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources Ramona Ramdial, Minister in the Ministry Works and Infrastructure
Stacy Roopnarine and Minister of Works and Infrastructure Surujrattan Rambachan.
—Photo: DEXTER PHILIP
Kamla: Expect new strategy for elections
UNC starts screening for 272 candidates
Carolyn Kissoon email@example.com
The United National Congress (UNC) began screening persons yesterday for positions in the upcoming local government election.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced 272 candidates will be chosen to contest positions in the 14 regional corporations.
Persad-Bissessar headed the screening committee at the UNC headquarters, Rienzi Complex, Couva, yesterday. The committee included UNC deputy political leader Surujrattan Rambachan, Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, Ramona Ramdial, Stacy Roopnarine and UNC Youth Arm leader Nicholas Morris, among others.
Persad-Bissessar told members of the media yesterday, “We began screening at 10 a.m. We have screened 12 candidates, and at this rate, we’ll be here long into the night. We have to identify 272 persons. We are screening those areas here today for UNC candidates. In combination with our partners, we will identify seats that would be contested by our partners and by the UNC.”
She said negotiations were continuing with the Congress of the People (COP) to determine which seats would be contested by the party.
Persad-Bissessar said the local government election will be based on the Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to introduce a system of proportional representation in the selection of aldermen. The bill was passed in the Senate at 3 a.m. yesterday.
“The job before the party is not screening for the candidates, it is also to identify, at the same time, aldermen. I think it is an excellent exercise.
Not a vote will be wasted because it means persons whose names are there to be aldermen are also being elected with the candidates, in order to ensure that those persons come forward. There will be no surprises at the end of the election. That is to say, there will be no names to come in as alderman that you would not have seen before,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said screening was expected to end at 3 a.m. today and recommence on Saturday morning. Nomination day is September 20.
Persad-Bissessar said, “When we go in, we go in to try to win all. Last election, we won 11 out of 14 (corporations). There are many of the view that we should not call this local government election because of the possibility that you will have a win, lose or draw situation. I took the view that we should keep our promise, so in the midst of an election, expect anything,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said the screening committee was trying to determine whether nominees were competent to be local government councillors.
She said candidates would be selected based on a history of social work in the community, people skills, character and overall ability to perform and interact with people.
And she admitted that following the UNC defeat in Chaguanas West, new strategies would be adopted.
“But I don’t want to tell my enemies what my strategies may be, but we will certainly have to change our campaign to get that message across,” she said.
Asked her position on fired St Joseph MP Herbert Volney, Persad-Bissessar said the matter was in the hands of the Parliament.
Volney has refused to move out of the Mt Lambert constituency office. He said he was still the elected representative and will continue to represent his constituents.