Trinidad Opposition parties unconvinced by Kamla’s unity call

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Trinidad Opposition parties unconvinced by Kamla’s unity call
Save the refinery: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaks to the media at her constituency office in Penal yesterday. Persad-Bissessar urged the Prime Minister to reconsider closing down Petrotrin's refinery. PHOTO BY ANSEL JEBODH
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaks to the media at her constituency office in Penal in this file photo.

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Political leaders of some smaller parties have blanked United National Congress (UNC) leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s unity call while some have called for the UNC to fix certain things and questioned why the unity call came so late.

That was the feedback yesterday following Persad-Bissessar call for a national accord to fight the PNM during a virtual meeting on Thursday night.

“I put out a clarion call to all and sundry from whichever political side who have become disheartened and disillusioned and even disgusted by the arrogance and aggression of the current administration, to become part of the National Accord to heal and help restore T&T,’’ Persad-Bissessar told supporters during the meeting.

“To those who have once been part of us, I say welcome home. Now is the time to put aside our differences in the interest of our nation. Let us come together to fight this wicked Rowley Government. There’s room for everyone at the table and under our tent.”

Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah:

“We’re not buying that – at all. UNC had attacked Patriotic’s bid to get Petrotrin’s refinery and we were part of the People’s Partnership and we saw how they behaved – so there’s no unity they can speak of. In Pointe-a-Pierre, where I’m contesting, people are fed up of both UNC and PNM.’’

Congress of the People leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan:

“It cannot be unity for power’s sake. Unity must be for meaningful change for T&T – and allowing an independent voice in the Parliament.”

New National Vision leader Fuad Abu Bakr:

Bakr said he recognised the UNC and PNM were both trying to get more support. But he said he didn’t see Persad-Bissessar’s unity call as feasible or possible at this point in time. He questioned how it would work.

He said he particularly didn’t see how it would work for constituents who want better representation. Abu Bakr noted the UNC already has candidates in the eight areas NNV’s contesting. “So what is she speaking about coming together now? People feel alienated and ignored by both parties and want people to sit in Parliament and truly speak on their behalf. This is what NNV’s trying to do – represent.”

He said the COP attempted unity with UNC in 2010 and “was chewed up and spit out.”

Movement for National Development leader Garvin Nicholas:

“Now would be the perfect time to withdraw the UNC candidates … there’s no doubt that a straight fight between the MND and the PNM in Diego Martin augurs well and strengthens our chances of winning the three seats. ’

“However, MND’s seeking to offer genuine change to the people of Diego Martin, giving them their own sense of identity. That could be compromised with any pre-election arrangement.

“Any arrangement post-election will only be entered into with the consent of the Diego Martin electorate which we will gauge by allowing them to vote on it using our Consultation App.”

Progressive Empowerment Party leader Phillip Alexander:

“As we have no idea what a ‘National Accord’ means in these instances, we’re hesitant to even have an opinion. Like everyone else wary of the fiasco that was the People’s Partnership, we wonder if the UNC even possess the moral authority to make such a call.

“Our Constitution and system of governance is broken and the UNC has had two opportunities to dedicate themselves to fixing it and failed. Now is the time for the people to get real representation focused on redeveloping the nation.

“While we’re open to discussing such issues with anyone, we need to be pellucidly clear we’ve resisted the calls for marriages of convenience before. Our position in that regard hasn’t changed. We are, however, interested in hearing what a National Accord might mean to UNC and how it might disconnect the ‘contract mafia’ that’s looted T&T, from getting near our Treasury.

“What we haven’t heard in all of this is UNC’s willingness to join with the call that ends corruption and institutes recall legislation to put the power of Parliament back into voters’ hands. Signals along those lines may interest us in listening further.

“Until such time, PEP stands as a beacon of hope of a better tomorrow. All who are interested in uniting for more than marriages of electoral convenience are asked to reach out to us.”

Independent Liberal Party leader Jack Warner:

“It’s too early for me to say (if I’d join up) with UNC. I have to talk to my executive.

“It’s a very good idea, better late than never but why so late in coming, we’d called for unity and it was rejected (by UNC). It’s a fantastic idea but why so late?”

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