Kamla says she has majority support for Opposition Leader post
By Juhel Browne
February 21, 2010 – trinidadexpress.com
Persad-Bissessar, who was elected as the United National Congress’ (UNC) political leader in the party’s January 24 internal elections, made her declaration shortly after Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh announced his support for her as opposition leader yesterday morning.
Gopeesingh said he was supporting Persad-Bissessar for the position at a news conference at the offices of his Woodbrook medical practice yesterday, three weeks after he unsuccessfully contested the post of deputy political leader on a Panday slate, and just one day after his own constituency executive called on him to endorse Persad-Bissessar.
Full Article : trinidadexpress.com
Kamla is Opposition Leader
By Andre Bagoo
February 21, 2010 – newsday.co.tt
UNC POLITICAL leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday secured the requisite backing for the post of Opposition Leader after a key Basdeo Panday loyalist, Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh, publically declared he would support the Siparia MP in place of Panday.
Gopeesingh for the first time indicated his support for Persad-Bissessar at a press conference held at his St Clair offices in Port-of-Spain.
He had been tipped as the last on a list of seven MPs needed for Persad-Bissessar to clinch the post.
The Caroni East MP’s crucial support came one day after Oropouche East MP Roodal Moonilal also indicated his support for the newly elected political leader and now serves to largely resolve lingering uncertainty over whether or not Persad-Bissessar would be able to take up the Constitutional post, which requires the holder to be able to command the support of the majority of Opposition MPs.
Full Article : newsday.co.tt
Tim dumps Bas, supports Kamla …Panday disappointed
By Ken Ali
February 21, 2010 – guardian.co.tt
In an election year, 57-year-old Kamla Persad-Bissessar this weekend moves closer to becoming a prime ministerial candidate. And Basdeo Panday’s colourful political career edged closer to its end. Persad-Bissessar yesterday secured the decisive support of a seventh United National Congress (UNC) Member of Parliament, which means she is likely to become Opposition Leader within days. Dr Tim Gopeesingh announced at a mid-morning news conference that he had decided to pitch his support for Persad-Bissessar “in the interest of preserving the UNC’s stability and credibility and in the interest of serving the people who elected me to office.” Panday, Trinidad and Tobago’s longest-serving Opposition Leader, reacted testily to Gopeesingh’s decision, telling the Sunday Guardian he was “disappointed” at the move. He claimed he had been reassured mere days before of Gopeesingh’s support.
Full Article : guardian.co.tt
Panday: It’s a betrayal
By Juhel Browne
February 21, 2010 – trinidadexpress.com
Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday says he has been betrayed by Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh, who yesterday announced his support for newly-elected political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar as the next Opposition Leader.
Gopeesingh, who had contes ted the post of deputy political leader on the Panday slate, told reporters at a news conference at his Port of Spain medical office that he is satisfied that he has not betrayed Panday.
’I hope that I will never betray Mr Panday, but I had to do this for the benefit of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,’ he said.
Asked yesterday if he felt Gopeesingh had betrayed him, Panday said:
’Yes, he did because he also spoke to me a few days ago in which he gave me his undertaking that I had his support.’
Full Article : trinidadexpress.com
Gopeesingh: MPs must be guided by the people
February 21, 2010
Following is the statement made by Dr Tim Gopeesingh, MP for Caroni East yesterday as he announced his support for UNC Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar as Opposition Leader: Members of the media, a pleasant good morning and thank you for coming to this news conference.
I have invited you here today to make public my decision on an issue of ongoing and serious national importance — that of whether the UNC’s newly elected political leader, Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar, should be elected as the country’s new Opposition Leader, following her victory in the January 24 internal elections of the UNC.
There have been widespread public views, editorials and general calls on MPs like myself, who supported Mr Basdeo Panday in the recent elections, to in fact use our parliamentary power of choice to elect Mrs Persad-Bissessar as Opposition Leader. It is a fact that there is no Constitutional requirement for the political leader of the Opposition party to in fact automatically be the Opposition Leader in Parliament.
In fact, the Constitution states that the Members of Parliament shall elect the person who they believe is best able to command the support of the greatest number of Members of the House of Representatives who do not support the Government.
However, I cannot deny that the longstanding tradition of this country is for the political leader of the Opposition party to in fact be the Opposition Leader in the Parliament of this country.
I also cannot neglect the fact that it was my own party which established a new precedent when, following the party’s internal elections of 2005, when Mr Winston Dookeran was nominated and went unopposed as UNC leader, Mr Panday continued as Opposition Leader until his seat was declared vacant in May 2006.
I wish to remind the population that at that time, established precedent was broken when Mrs Persad-Bissessar accepted the role of Opposition Leader instead of Mr Dookeran, who was at the time, still the party’s political leader.
This Parliamentary and political conflict, in retrospect, did not serve the UNC well in or out of Parliament at the time.
In fact, I firmly believe that it played a major role in destabilising the party’s image and contributed to our loss of the 2007 general elections. The Parliamentary image of a party, after all, is the image the public most sees of the party and therefore remains the prmary impact on that party’s credibility, stability and integrity.
I further wish to point out that at that point in time, I was not an elected Member of Parliament and therefore at the time had no say in that matter. I wish to state this morning that I have so far remained silent on my position on this issue because I felt in the aftermath of January 24 elections, every Member of Parliament ought to have had enough time to assimilate the results and ponder on them and the implications and consequences ensuing there from.
I have spent the last two months carefully studying, analysing and weighing the consequences and implications of the current conflict the party once more finds itself in.
Many have asked us MPs why we have not made our positions on this issue public so far. I wish to remind the population that it has not even been a month since this critical election and no politician, should make any uninformed, rash and impetuous decision.
Therefore I had to take time to assess the situation, to seriously consider the consequences there from, to give effect to the clear and unambiguous mandate of our party’s electorate and to arrive at a sober and just decision that will affect the entire citizenry of this blessed nation.
In the ensuing days after the elections, I had to consider various realities about the political situation the UNC has now found itself in. These included the landslide victory of Mrs Persad-Bissessar and most of her slate over Mr Panday and his slate, as well as the irregularities that were subsequently suspected about the election list. Most importantly however, it included the fact that the party’s membership has spoken with a resounding result that change in leadership was inevitable.
Many have asked us MPs why we have not made our positions on this issue public so far. I wish to remind the population that it has not even been a month since this critical election and no politician, should make any uninformed, rash and impetuous decision. Therefore I had to take time to assess the situation, to seriously consider the consequences there from, to give effect to the clear and unambiguous mandate of our party’s electorate and to arrive at a sober and just decision that will affect the entire citizenry of this blessed nation.
In the ensuing days after the elections, I had to consider various realities about the political situation the UNC has now found itself in.
These included the landslide victory of Mrs Persad-Bissessar and most of her slate over Mr Panday and his slate, as well as the irregularities that were subsequently suspected about the election list. Most importantly however, it included the fact that the party’s membership has spoken with a resounding result that change in leadership was inevitable.
Consistent with the mandate of the UNC’s electorate, I was inundated with calls, emails, messages from people of all walks of life, constituents and citizens in general imploring me to be decisive in resolving the conflict which would inevitably occur, if the will of the party members and the Parliamentary system were at odds with each other, thereby throwing our party into further fragmentation and instability.
My decision has come with a considerable measure of personal disquiet and emotion. Let me state from the outset that my faith in Mr Panday’s ability as a leader remains unshaken. He remains my close friend, my mentor and my political inspiration.
His over 40 years of unequalled service to the people of this country can and never ought to go forgotten and should always be cherished in the annals of political history of this country. I firmly believe that he continues to have a major role to play in politics of this country in the coming years.
In fact, it was instructional and laudable that Mrs Persad-Bissessar praised him as her political guru in her campaign. As a true friend to my mentor and after much soul searching, I have come to the decision that once the people of the UNC have spoken, and have chosen a new leader, we as MPs must be guided by their voices. Since I’ve been an MP in the House of Representatives I have witnessed the tremendous efforts of all UNC MPs to serve the country and fight PNM dictatorship and corruption. We worked as a cohesive team before the unfortunate division by members of the so called Ramjack faction.
As our revered mentor Mr Panday has taught us, the principles of democracy cannot be compromised. Its concepts cannot be adopted in any halfway measure. One must stand or fall by its principles. As I pointed out before, the party’s Parliamentary image is crucial to its stability and credibility.
Therefore, in the interest of preserving the UNC’s stability and credibility, and in the interest of serving the people who elected me into office, I have decided to give my support to Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar as Opposition Leader.
I also intend to hold discussions with Mrs Persad-Bissessar in the very near future about conciliatory talks with Mr Panday since I know she recognizes his great role and his ongoing importance to our party. I firmly believe that it is time that the UNC re-establishes itself as the most powerful party and not allow ourselves to be distracted by the extraneous and irrelevant issues of the elections which are now past.
I need to recognise that the people have spoken and our duty is to listen to them. I am also acutely aware that the country as a whole is crying out that their trust in the present administration has been betrayed and the political tribalism is causing serious infractions and distress to the core of our beloved country.
Our duty as MPs and as members of the UNC who have worked faithfully and tirelessly to ensure the survival of the party mandates that we now elect Mrs Persad-Bissessar as Opposition Leader and place in her the trust and confidence which are required to lead our party into Government and ensure that our party moves forward in a healing process to make it the viable and tenacious force it once was to the benefit of our people and country. Thank you.