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Volney tosses hat in UNC internal election ring

Political newcomer, Justice Minister Herbert Volney, who gave up his job as a High Court judge to enter the arena of politics two years ago, has thrown his hat in the ring to contest one of the posts of deputy political leader of the United National Congress.

Volney will be battling three of his colleagues and current sitting members of Parliament for the position—Foreign Affairs and Communications Minister Suruj Rambachan (incumbent), Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal (incumbent) and Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan.

Some 11 people filed nominations papers on Sunday to contest the position of deputy political leader, others include former Chaguanas mayor Natasha Navas, Sunil Ramjitsingh, Rajkumar Doodnath and candidates from Generation Next slate—James Mohammed, Affifah Mohammed and Shavitta Lochan.

Works Minister Jack Warner is being challenged by attorney Ashvani Mahabir as well as Mooniram Hero and Asha Sookanan for the position of chairman of the party.

Questioned yesterday as to what sparked his interest in contesting the election, speaking by phone from London, Volney said: "When you are in the height of politics you know you have to lead and not follow and I am a leader, I am not a follower. So when these positions come up it is for persons like myself to be available," said Volney.

It is important, he said, to strike a balance in the party in terms of its image.

Asked to explain, Volney replied "The perception of the party is that it is an Indian party with its power base south of the Caroni River, all this business of a cabal running the party and the country which at times affect the running of the country, can be addressed.

"I am certainly not from South, I am certainly not an Indian although I am married to one, I am certainly not in any cabal and I am not a Hindu, I am a Christian and I think I have a balance in all of these regards, I am not a politician per se, but I think I will make a good candidate.''

When questioned, Volney said he had the support of his Cabinet and party colleagues.

Volney said he proposes to undertake a "smart campaign" upon his return from London on Sunday.

He is currently in London with a team from the Justice Ministry as guests of the British Government to learn about the English penal system and its reform of the criminal justice system. —Anna Ramdass

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