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Team Penny: Why were 7,000 rejected?

 Attorney Ronald Boynes and other members of “Team Penny” yesterday called for the People’s National Move­ment (PNM) to say on what basis the applications of over 7,000 people were rejected to vote in the May 18 internal elections. 

He said time was running out to get those people back on the list.

But even as they hurled alle­-

­ga­­tions of incompetence and attempts to “subvert the democra­­­tic process within the party” against the PNM in the run-up to the elections, there was no ready support for Dr Keith Row­ley to resign as political leader of the PNM from the slate of his opponent, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson.

Beckles-Robinson’s slate held a news conference at the offices of Boynes on Sackville Street, Port of Spain, yesterday.

Beckles-Robinson was absent. 

She was said to be “on the ground”, meeting supporters.

As well, there was also no com­mitment from Team Penny’s head table that going to court was the next move to get the voters’ list to their candidates.

The PNM goes to the polls on May 18 to choose a new exe­c-

utive and a new political lead­er.

Beckles-Robinson is the chal­lenger for the leadership. 

Despite several questions as to definite court action, should the party fail to meet its April 21 deadline for the voters’ list, neither Boynes, Team Penny’s candidate for general secretary, nor Danny Montano, candidate for chairman, would commit. 

The answers were along the lines of “we should not jump to that as yet” and “we want to explore fully all our options”. 

Boynes however raised a num­-

ber of “troubling” issues and “glit­-

ches” in the internal elections pro­cess. 

He tackled issues of unavai­l­-

ability of forms and rejection of applications, as well as the una­vailability of the membership list to candidates.

“We are here because we want free and fair internal elections, elections which are a credit to the party, to all 34 candidates taking part,” he said. 

Boynes added, “Team Pen­ny was a strong believer in the principles of how the party con­ducts its elections, which would give a clear indication of how the PNM would govern, if and when it assumes control of government in 2015.” 

Also present at the conference, were candidates Cagney Cas­si­mere (vice-chairman) Ni leung Hypolite (logistics co-ordinator) and Marva Bellamy-Bostic, for the post of lady vice-chairman.

As to the disparity between the 280,000 people who voted for the PNM at national elections and the current list of a mere 79,000, Boynes pointed to the arbi­trary changes emanating from Balisier House about the colours of the forms and the numbering process. 

He said while forms were not

available to his team, there was

the perception people cam­paign­ing for Dr Rowley were getting as many forms as they wanted. 

“Members began submitting what they thought were the cur­rent membership forms, only to be told then and there that these forms were not current, were not going to be accepted and, there­fore, could not be used for this purpose.” 

As to what standard should be adopted for the internal elections, Boynes said bearing in mind the political leader of the PNM is one step away from becoming the prime minister, then the standards that apply should be the same as those in a general election. 

He said it is important the PNM internal elections be abso­lutely transparent, fair and just since the PNM’s choice of leader will directly impact its ability to win against the incumbent Gov­ernment in 2015. 

Boynes said, “Team Penny de­mands that the party revert to proper procedures and rules, in adherence with the PNM’s con­stitution.”

He said with the unavailability of the voters’ list, candidates are being advised to visit the 41 constituencies to look at the list to determine who the current members are. 

“This is not in keeping with the convention in a democratic country and, therefore, must be changed. The list must be available to all candidates since the election is one-man, one-vote, similar to national election.” 

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