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PNM open to leadership challenge in internal election


PNM leader and prime minister, Dr Keith Rowley at a public meeting, Mt Hope/ Mt Lambert Community Centre on Friday. – SUREASH CHOLAI

THE Election Supervisory Committee (ESC) of the People’s National Movement (PNM) is not ruling out the possibility that the leadership of its political leader, Dr Keith Rowley could be challenged when the party holds its internal elections before the end of the year.

The question is whether the challenger would succeed, chairman of the ESC Anthony Roberts said on Saturday, as he announced the dates for the election at a news conference at the PNM’s Central Regional Office, Chaguanas which also serves as the ESC headquarters.

When the question was put to Roberts about the interest the internal polls will generate and the possibility of a challenge to the leadership, he said that would not be surprising as it happened during the 2018 internals.

“You feel that can’t happen in the PNM?” he responded.

“It happened the last time we held the election. He had a challenger, and now that person (the challenger) is a senior member of the Cabinet.”

Pennelope Beckles, who lost the leadership vote to Rowley, is now an elected MP and the Planning and Development Minister in his Cabinet.

Anthony Roberts, (seated, second from left) with other members of the PNM’s Election Supervisory Committee at the Central Regional Office in Chaguanas on Saturday. From left are UTC executive director, Clarry Benn, Samantha Felix, secretary, and Senator Renuka Sagramsingh- Sooklal. – YVONNE WEBB

“So we are confident in the way we operate our business. This is about the business of the party and the best persons must run the affairs of the party,” Roberts said.

“Maybe that is why the PNM is here so long. We guarantee you, there would be no confusion or bacchanal in the way we do our things.”

Roberts announced three days of voting have been set aside on November 26, 27 and December 4. December 4 is also the date of the party’s convention.

Asked if the internals will take place before or after local government elections, which the Prime Minister said is constitutionally due this year, Roberts said only Rowley can make that announcement.

“But I like the question.”

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Roberts said all 15 positions are up for grabs. The political leader will be elected to serve a four-year term, while the other positions will be valid for two years.

Nomination day is October 10 and Roberts said he expects it would generate a lot of interest.

“We are going to do it professionally and ensure that everything is above board.

“Everything is above board in the way we do our things within our business in the PNM.”

Nomination forms will be made available to all 41 constituencies including Tobago, over this weekend, Monday for the latest, Roberts said.

“The constituencies will be collecting nomination forms and thereafter, you have to get it in by 4 pm on October 10, at this venue.”

The United National Congress (UNC) recently held its party internal elections, which saw the return of Kamla Persad-Bissessar as its political leader.