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Kamla: Wannabes’ ambitions outweigh their talents

Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is not fazed by the pending challenge to her United National Congress (UNC) leadership, but says elections will follow the party’s constitution.

Persad-Bissessar made the comment yesterday in response to Mayaro MP Rushton Paray’s call for the party to hold internal elections. Some 100 UNC members supported Paray at a media conference, even as he acknowledged his stance could amount to his “political suicide”.

Paray also called for his colleagues at all party levels to join him in the call for the party to hold National Executive (Natex) elections in June.

Persad-Bissessar did not seem too concerned about the issue at a media conference with leaders of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) at the Opposition Leader’s office on Charles Street, Port-of-Spain.

“Our party is a strong … a very strong party. We remain committed to the party’s constitution and to the laws of the land. And thirdly, you know, we have some wannabes. I wish them good luck and say we remain committed to the party’s constitution. We follow the party’s constitution,” she said in response to Paray’s call hours earlier.

According to the party’s constitution, Persad-Bissessar’s term is up in 2025. The Natex, which is loyal to her, was elected in 2022 and its term goes up to June.

Persad-Bissessar added, “Anyone who wants to jump the gun must wait their turn. Now is not the time for that. We must stay laser-focused on doing all we can to rescue the people of this country. So good luck to the wannabes; sometimes, their ambitions outweigh their talents. I wish them good luck.”

Earlier this month, Paray signalled his desire to elevate to the position of political leader, saying, “I don’t think there’s a police constable who joins the TTPS and doesn’t want to be Police Commissioner.”

Already, at least two Opposition MPs—Rodney Charles and Rai Ragbir—support Paray’s call.

Talks with JTUM

Among the union leaders whom Persad-Bissessar met with yesterday was JTUM president Ancel Roget, who pointed out that the meeting was not the start of a partnership between labour bodies and the UNC.

However, he said JTUM and the Opposition shared the same concerns about the labour movement and society, particularly over the Government’s offer of four per cent salary increases, the need for better labour legislation, and the closure of the Petrotrin refinery.

“We were very happy to hear the commitment from the leader of the Opposition to assist with moving these issues. Remember, these are not new issues. All of these issues are before this Government, and they changed two ministers of labour, and both of them have refused to move these issues forward.

“The previous one, the Honourable Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, the former minister of labour, would have done a number of consultations on all of these issues,” Roget said.

Persad-Bissessar echoed Roget’s views.

“We share several issues and we may have differences on some, but I think at the moment, the nation is suffering … the population is suffering, especially the working class,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She added, “He’s (the Prime Minister) concerned about the rich getting richer. Well, we are concerned about the poor and the vulnerable who make up the majority of people in this country and where we share similar views, we can work together. So, it’s not a platform. This is something I take very seriously because I see that suffering on a daily basis in my constituency and wherever I visit, wherever I go.”

JTUM and the Opposition plan to continue meetings on issues that concern them. —With reporting by Otto Carrington

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