PNM awaiting word from EBC on COP candidates
“SLEIGHTS of hand” was how the People’s National Movement (PNM) yesterday described the presentation of three Congress of the People (COP) local government election candidates, who are not members of the party they intend to represent.
Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) rules dictate candidates must be registered members of the party that they represent, but it is being claimed the COP candidates in question are, in fact, members of the United National Congress (UNC).
The COP, as part of the coalition People’s Partnership, of which the UNC is a member, is contesting five regional corporations.
The candidates in contention have been presented as Sookdeo Prakash Barath for Caura/Paradise/Tacarigua, J-Lynn Roopnarine for Dabadie/Carapo and Diane Bishop for Five Rivers/Lopinot.
They were presented at a rally at Harris Promenade, San Fernando, on Monday night, to launch the Partnership’s campaign for the October 1 local government elections.
Following a story on the issue in yesterday’s Express, calls came in from several members of the COP, who said they were displeased with the arrangement.
In a media release yesterday, the PNM stated: “The People’s National Movement is calling on the Elections and Boundaries Commission to declare as invalid the candidacies of three United National Congress members who attempted to qualify to contest the elections as members of the Congress of the People, in violation of the EBC rules.”
The EBC’s rules, 7-13, Chapter 3, “Nomination of Candidates”, 6.(5), state: “Where a candidate represents a political party, a letter is presented stating that he/she is a member of the party and the candidate for the electoral district.”
And also, “A candidate stands nominated when in the case of a party candidate, he/she presents a letter from the party confirming his/her membership and stating that he/she is the candidate for the electoral district.”
“As a political party which has contested every election in all districts since 1956, the PNM sees the latest episode as the danger of putting country’s affairs, whether at local or central government level, in the hands of a pick-up side, which gathers and discards members on the basis of political convenience, in defiance of the law,” the PNM stated.
The statement added that the PNM “is aware of that there are several other similar candidates in other regional corporations who attempted to file nominations using similar sleights of hand”.
The party said it will now await confirmation from the EBC.
Attempts to contact COP political leader Prakash Ramadhar were yesterday unsuccessful, while general secretary Clyde Weatherhead declined comment until further notice.