He added that the applicants’ membership forms will be processed at a later date and if accepted they will be eligible to vote in subsequent elections. Ramnath, the Couva South MP, said the party did not expect so many applications and time simply would not have allowed for the review and processing of the applicants.
The list which is now being used for the elections, comprises 34,000 names processed from 2006 to November 29 (which was the party’s National Assembly) and was made available to all constituency offices yesterday.
When asked late yesterday evening if all constituency offices had collected the list Ramnath said “a couple of them but they have all been informed to pick up their compact discs.” The period for objections and corrections will be from January 7 to 10 and a final list would be completed on January 15, Ramnath said. However the change of dates would not have an effect on nomination day which remains January 11. Some members of the National Executive met yesterday at the party’s Rienzi Complex Headquarters where Ramnath said the Membership Committee made the recommendation to the National Executive to stay the processing of the 16,000 membership applications and approve the old list.
At Rienzi Complex, political leader Basdeo Panday, Senate Minority Leader Wade Mark, Caroni East MP Tim Gopeesingh, Opposition Chief Whip Hamza Rafeeq, St Augustine MP Vasant Bharath and Oropouche West and Oropouche East MPs Mickela Panday and Roodal Moonilal were present.
Ramnath said most members of the National Executive have agreed to the recommendations made by the membership committee. Asked if national executive members Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner were also in agreement, Ramnath said:
“I know that all the members have been made aware of it and that the majority have agreed.” Pressed further about the fact that both Persad-Bissessar and Warner were not present at Rienzi he said, “we are doing a round robin of those not present.”
Persad-Bissessar and Tabaquite MP Ramesh Lawrence-Maharaj are contesting Panday’s post of political leader while Warner will square off against Bharath for post of party chairman.
Ramnath concurred that the list of 34,000 contains the names of some Congress of the People (COP) members and said that the list will continue to be reviewed.
Maharaj congratulated the party on the decision to not allow the 16,000 new applicants to vote in the elections saying to do so would have been unconstitutional. Contacted for comment, Persad-Bissessar said as far as she was aware, no national executive meeting was planned for yesterday. She noted that as Deputy Political Leader, she would have been informed of any such meeting. Meanwhile, Warner forwarded a letter to chairman of the elections committee Kemchan Ramdath, which stated that the election process thus far has been far from fair and transparent.
Warner termed the decision to not allow the 16,000 new applicants to vote as “highly undemocratic, illegal, immoral and reeking of corruption.”
He also claimed that the decision was taken by a few members and not the national executive and at no time was he invited to discuss the matter pursuant to the UNC Constitution to ratify the final list of the party’s membership, which he said suggests something politically sinister and “strikes at the party’s constitution.”
When asked if there was indeed any legal ramifications to the decision to not have the 16,000 new applicants vote, Ramnath would only say, “In this country legal challenges are mounted on a number of different issues.”
The letter said that Warner’s officers received the Provisional Membership List from Rienzi yesterday which, the letter claimed, contained a number of discrepancies.
Former UNC Communications Specialist Sunil Ramjitsingh, who now works in the same capacity with Warner, last night claimed he was chased out of Rienzi Complex by his former boss Basdeo Panday.
In a an e-mail issued to Newsday, Ramjitsingh claimed he visited Rienzi Complex at about 11.33 am to collect a nomination form, when he was allegedly told by Panday that he was not welcomed there.
Ramjitsingh further alleged he was ordered out of Rienzi Complex in the presence of other UNC executive members and members of the public. Panday last night could not be reached for comment.