Speaking during the tea-break in the sitting of the House of Representatives yesterday, she vowed to hold more consultations with her colleagues and party officials on this issue. “The mandate of the people was predicated upon and in fact inspired by a demand for change and a hope for change.
“Therefore we cannot offer the same but must bring some hope through the change and that change must be visible. We will begin with our appointments to the Senate...so yes some changes will be made there,” she said.
“We are looking to form the next government. Therefore there are three functions that I see in terms of the persons who represent us in the Senate. They must be persons who will bring comfort, hope and bring attractiveness.
“They must be attractive to our core supporters, so they must be persons from that ilk. But in addition, they must be persons who will attract others if it is that we are to have sufficient numbers to form the government,” she said.
She said she was very heartened by the kinds of persons now offering to serve in the Senate. Persad-Bissessar could not say how many Senators would be replaced.
“I really cannot say at this point. You have a mix. Names are coming forward. People are still putting forward names. There is absolutely no final decision on any single appointment or disappointment. The only decision I think that is clear at this point is that we will be making some changes.”
Persad-Bissessar described two letters being sent yesterday to President George Maxwell Richards, proposing a change in the post of Opposition Leader, as “another step in the journey we have embarked upon.”
Persad-Bissessar remained unfazed by St Augustine MP Vasant Bharath’s refusal to endorse her for the post of Opposition Leader, asking instead if he had ever indicated he was supporting her. “The detractors will always be there. That’s what politics is about and what life is about. I am not fazed by that...once we continue to have the mandate of the membership and of the wider public (we move forward).” She said it was not true to say the UNC was fractured.
“The membership has spoken. It was an overwhelming mandate given to me by the party’s membership. Therefore, whatever fracturing people are speaking of would seem to be really at the level of (just) some of the Members of Parliament, rather than from the membership of the constituencies and the chairmen of those constituencies. So we feel very strong, very confident we can go forward, keeping focussed on what it is we need to do.”
On the absence from the House yesterday of outgoing Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday, Persad-Bissessar said she did not know the reason. “We have not spoken since prior to the (January 24 UNC) election. Post-election, I have made several unsuccessful attempts to try to reach Mr Panday.”
She then invited reporters to the handing over of instruments of the Opposition Leader which is due today and added that if any MP wanted to go to the back benches, they are free to do so as it is their democratic right.
“It’s just a couple of MPs, one or two MPs, or several MPs, a family of MPs, who seem to want to continue engaging in this kind of activity when it is clear the majority of the membership has totally different views. I think they can only do more damage to themselves rather than do damage to the party.”