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Condemnation and support for Panday's plan

There have been widespread opposition as well as support for the call by UNC Political Leader Basdeo Panday to party supporters to prepare to engage themselves in peaceful civil disobedience to force early general elections.

Support came from among the UNC membership while one senior counsel, the oldest Pentecostal group of over 110 churches and a copyright body condemned Panday.

Senior Counsel Israel Khan asked UNC parliamentarians to publicly condemn their Political Leader Basdeo Panday for his call.

Khan said in an open letter to the parliamentarians that this was a dangerous road to travel, adding that only the UNC leader's "sycophants would adhere to such a call".

He told the parliamentarians: "Now is the time to put country before party. MR & Mrs UNC Member of Parliament if you do not take a stand on this issue history would not absolve you. If you are silent on this score, it simply means one of two things. You are either a Panday's sycophant or you are in support of his call to engage in civil disobedience."

However, in an immediate response to Khan, Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar said all UNC MPs and the party's executive were in solid support of their leader.

She said before Panday had issued his call at a regional meeting at the Barrackpore Secondary School last Thursday, all UNC MPs and "shadow MPs" were informed at a meeting earlier in the day at the Rienzi Complex and were in full agreement with the move.

She said there was a misunderstanding of what was civil disobedience, adding: "It is clearly lawful, expression of our democratic rights as enshrined in the constitution, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement and that is all the political leader advocated. The only time violence came into the picture was when the Attorney General (Glenda Morean) talked about bloodshed."

In a press release party chairman Wade Mark condemned "deliberate attempts to distort" Panday's call "for peaceful civil disobedience along the lines of that advocated by Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi".

Mark said the UNC executive was fully behind its political leader.
In another statement the party's San Fernando East constituency said it supported Panday wholeheartedly and will join in "any march, and engage in any act of peaceful disobedience, to uphold our democracy which we hold dear.

It demanded the convening of parliament failing which early national elections should be held.

The Trinidad and Tobago Copyright Organisation (COTT) said it didn't think that such a call was justified for the reasons outlined and appealed to Panday to withdraw it.
COTT however felt that the convening of Parliament was paramount for the society and country to move forward.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago (PAWI, T&T), the largest and oldest established Pentecostal group in the country, with over 110 churches and over 30,000 members or believers through its Secretary/Treasurer Clyde Baker in a statement called on Panday to clarify his statement. He said they were very concerned over the statement and urged him to desist from such path.

PAWI, T&T also called on Panday to explain who were the "born-again demons" he referred to in his address. Speaking to reporters at the EBC offices yesterday Panday dismissed statements by former Independent Senator Martin Daly SC criticising him for his civil disobedience call.

He said a lot of "arm chair" politicians spoke a lot of foolishness, they don't get into the arena and they don't know what the reality of politics was all about. He also asked who voted for Daly.

From the Newsday

Trinidad and Tobago News

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