Kamla letters for Max

Persad-Bissessar disclosed this at a media conference following a meeting of Opposition parliamentarians at the party’s Rienzi Complex, Couva headquarters last evening.

“It has been a month of coming together, of thinking, for reflection on moving forward and it is a good day on which to have the letter delivered to the President,” she said.

Seven UNC MPs have signed the letter endorsing Persad-Bissessar to replace former political leader Basdeo Panday as Opposition Leader.

Persad-Bissessar has also penned a letter to the President accepting the MPs’ support for her to serve in this post. This letter will also be delivered to the President today. Although Parliament sits today, it is expected that Persad-Bissessar will be sworn in by the President tomorrow.

It remains to be seen if Panday will sit in the chair designated for the Opposition Leader in Parliament since he is still the holder of this post until it is revoked by the President and Persad-Bissessar is appointed in his place. Persad-Bissessar told reporters there would be no changes to the seating arrangements today, unless Panday sits in another chair.

“There will be no forced seating arrangements in the Parliament. I cannot say if he will voluntarily decide to sit elsewhere. There will be no seating changes from the caucus or from the Chief Whip,” she said.

With her appointment as Opposition Leader now a matter of formality, Persad-Bissessar said two major hurdles had been overcome in her goal to transform the UNC into an alternative government.

“The first step was to get the mandate from the membership in terms of the voting, the second step was to get the majority of the MPs to give their support so we don’t have a double-headed hydra of leadership and that there is one clear leader in the leadership position,” she said.

The MPs who attended and have signed the endorsement letter are Chief Whip and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, Mayaro MP Winston “Gypsy” Peters, Fyzabad MP Chandresh Sharma, Cumuto/ Manzanilla MP Harry Partap, Naparima MP Nizam Baksh and Caroni East MP Dr Tim Goopeesingh.

St Augustine MP Vasant Bharath, who on Monday said he had little choice but to support Persad-Bissessar and was willing to sign the letter once he met with her, did not sign after all since he missed yesterday’s meeting to attend a funeral. Those MPs who also did not attend the meeting were Panday, his daughter and Oropouche West MP Mickela Panday, his brother and Princes Town North MP Subhas Panday, Tabaquite MP Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Couva South MP Kelvin Ramnath and Caroni Central MP Dr Hamza Rafeeq. Rafeeq is overseas recovering from a recent illness.

Persad-Bissessar pointed out that the MPs did not have to accede to her request for a meeting.

“While some members did not add their names to the list of members of Parliament to support me in the position of Opposition Leader, nor did I expect or require them to do, I ask that all of us be disciplined in our approach towards dealing with issues affecting the party and the country as we re-brand and reposition our party to form the next government,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said she received emails from Maharaj and Ramnath about their absences. She did not read Maharaj’s email which she got late while in his email, Ramnath raised concerns about her “Meet the constituents” meeting in his constituency on Monday night.

Those MPs who met with her yesterday engaged in “a very healthy, candid, open discussion on the matter of the Leader of the Opposition position,” Persad-Bissessar said.

Asked whether the party would be devising an exit strategy for Panday, she said, “I don’t see that Mr Panday is exiting. Mr Panday is an elected member of the Parliament, he will be sitting in the Parliament to represent his constituents, he’s still a member of the United National Congress and I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the development of the party, to the development of his constituency and to the development of the nation.”

Panday has already cleared out his office at the Office of the Opposition Leader on Charles Street, Port-of-Spain.


"Kamla letters for Max"

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