Cadiz says no to Panday

By Ria Taitt
July 12 2007

NewspapersThe grand alliance of Opposition parties has hit a snag. Basdeo Panday, the acknowledged leader of the majority group within the alliance, the UNC, has been found to be unacceptable as leader by at least one party, YesTT, which is led by Stephen Cadiz.

On Monday night Panday announced that the UNC would fight the General Election as part of a coalition with NAR, Ytt, DPTT and NDP. The coalition is to be known as the UNC Alliance.

However less than 36 hours later, Cadiz told Newsday yesterday that while it was “very necessary” for Panday to continue as leader of the UNC, the issue of Panday leading the alliance was out of the question. “The leader of the alliance still has to be determined. However we don’t see Mr Panday as that person,” Cadiz said.

Why? “We recognise that there are issues surrounding Mr Panday, hence the reason why we prefer to do it this way (that is have another leader).”

The “issues” identified by Cadiz were mainly Panday’s court matters. Panday is charged with failing to declare a London bank account to the Integrity Commission. “His issues are very public,” Cadiz noted. Asked what happens if the UNC is not prepared to concede on the alliance leadership, Cadiz said, “Well there are other people in the UNC who can be very easily considered for that position. We are not saying that the UNC cannot put up someone else for it. (But) The only name that we know for a fact that would pose problems is Mr Panday’s”

Asked whether at their preparatory meetings the smaller parties made it clear that they were not prepared to have Panday as leader, Cadiz said, “Yes. At the meetings that we have had, that has been said many many times.”

However the man who initiated the alliance process, Jack Warner, speaking from Vancouver, Canada, said Cadiz was misrepresenting the discussions. “We said that Mr Panday’s leadership (of the alliance) was not negotiable…I made the point at the meeting that that is not negotiable,” Warner emphasised. He added however that the leadership issue was down for discussion at the next meeting which takes place next week. The man at the centre of the whole controversy, Panday, was unflustered. Commenting on Cadiz’s rejection of his leadership, Panday opined, “He is entitled to his opinion, isn’t he? I have no desire for leadership.” Asked whether he was prepared to be just a member in the alliance, Panday replied, “Once that is the people’s choice.”

“Political leadership is based on the consensus of people. And without that, the leader is not a leader. He probably just has office. So I have no worries about that. And I have no desire to lead,” he stated. At this point, the cellphone connection became difficult and when Panday was told by Newsday “you are breaking up”, he quipped: “I hope that you are not speaking of the alliance, my dear.”

Apart from the leadership dispute, there is a split within one of the parties represented in the alliance over the decision to merge. While the Trinidad arm of the NAR, led by Carson Charles is enthusiastically endorsing Panday’s leadership of the alliance, the Tobago arm has dissociated itself from the coalition, explaining that it was not informed or consulted.,60400.html

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