UNC members stand behind Kamla, reject calls for her removal
UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar arrives at the Hermitage Presbyterian School, La Romaine on August 10, 2020 to cast her vote. (Photo by Darlisa Ghouralal)
Members of the United National Congress (UNC) have come out in defence of party leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar even as others have called for her resignation following another defeat at the polls on Monday.
During a conference on Tuesday, UNC public relations officer Anita Haynes affirmed the party’s confidence in Persad-Bissessar, but at least two members hold the view that she should vacate the post.
Former MP for Barataria/San Juan Dr Fuad Khan, as well as former minister Devant Maharaj, on Wednesday, urged the UNC leader to offer her resignation.
The two also shared the view that the party’s request for recounts in five constituencies was an effort in futility.
But following Khan and Maharaj’s call, several UNC members came out to endorse Persad-Bissessar’s leadership.
Deputy leader David Lee — who was re-elected to the Pointe-a-Pierre constituency — commended his leader for her “people-centred approach”. He said Persad-Bissessar is needed at the helm to hold the government accountable.
He said: “At one of the most uncertain times in our nation's history, we need stellar leadership to keep the Rowley regime in check and ensure the rights of our people are protected. That Leader is Kamla Persad Bissessar.
“As leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar continues to have the vision, drive and compassion needed to get this country working again.”
Lee added that her leadership “remains as the only potent option to restore this nation”, and it was for this reason that she has his full support.
Barry Padarath, who retained the Princes Town constituency, echoed similar sentiments, noting that Persad-Bissessar is the right person to continue leading the party at this time.
He added that she has his full, unconditional support as the leader of the UNC.
Padarath commended Persad-Bissessar on her selection of candidates to contest the election, stating that she had demonstrated her commitment to empowering young people by the number of young, fresh faces she has placed in the Parliament.
Adding his voice to the outpouring of support for the UNC leader, incoming Caroni East MP Rishi Seecharran said Persad-Bissessar is the most popular political leader in Trinidad and Tobago.
He added that it is clear that there is widespread support for the UNC throughout the country.
“The extensive electoral support is also a tremendous vote of confidence for Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, the esteemed and visionary leader of UNC,” he said.
Meanwhile, re-elected Naparima MP Rodney Charles and the constituency executive opposed those calling for the removal of Persad-Bissessar as leader.
Following an emergency session on Wednesday, the returning MP backed by the Naparima executive voiced support of her leadership.
“In our view, the political leader ran an imaginative, thought-provoking, innovative, policy-based campaign that found favour with the majority of voters from all demographic groups, especially the youth,” a statement read.
General Secretary Davendranath Tancoo backed Persad-Bissessar, calling her a "true leader" who cares for all citizens.
"This is the leadership we need right now: strong, unwavering, focused and determined. We need that combination of caregiver and warrior to lead us now as we face the most serious challenges of our generation," he said.
Incoming Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Rai Ragbir also endorsed Persad-Bissessar's leadership.
"She has proven time and again within the eyes of the people of Trinidad and Tobago to be the most qualified person to lead both party and nation in times of need," Ragbir said.
Persad-Bissessar has not responded to any of the calls for her to step aside from the leadership of the party.