Fuad Khan challenges Kamla for UNC leadership

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CHALLENGER: Former health minister Dr Fuad Khan who is challenging Kamla Persad-Bissessar for the leadership in the UNC’s June 26 internal elections. –

FORMER Barataria/San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan is challenging Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for the position of political leader in the United National Congress (UNC) internal elections set for June 26.

In confirming that he has thrown his hat in the the UNC’s election ring, Khan told Newsday that he had flown to the United States to attend a medical training course and as such, had someone file the nomination papers on this behalf.

“Yes, I have the receipt which show I have filed my papers. I have filed for the post of political leader of the United National Congress,” Khan said.

He told Newsday that there is a ever-widening view within the party that Persad-Bissessar straddling the dual roles of Opposition Leader in the Parliament and political leader of the party, had considerably weakened her ability to effectively carry out these functions.

“Quite a lot of members in the party are not happy with the way the UNC is performing. They are not happy with the strategies of the political leader,” Khan said.

“They feel the leader can serve the party and country better by focusing all of her energies with her work in the Parliament as Opposition Leader while there is another person who will embrace fully, the role of political leader to steer it and give the party the proper guidance it needs,” Khan added.

He said that his intention, should he be elected as the political leader, would be to embrace all of the membership, including those who have been ostracised by the current leadership, for their perceived loyalty to the party’s founder and first political leader, Basdeo Panday.

UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. –

“My symbol for this elections is that of a smiley face which symbolises happiness and all-inclusiveness. I want to bring back those who have been ostracised back into the party fold. The others, their symbol is a star, and this is star is that of a celebrity which you have to bow down to,” Khan said.

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Among those filing at party headquarters at the M. Rampersad building in San Fernando were Persad-Bissessar and Dr Roodal Moonilal. Moonilal is going up for one of three posts of deputy political leader.

David Lee and Jearlean John have also filed for the post of deputy political leader, under the Persad-Bissessar slate. Dr Lackram Bodoe did not file for any internal positions, Newsday was told.

Senator Anil Roberts threw his hat in the ring for the northeast regional co-ordinator post, while MPs Khadijah Ameen Ravi Ratiram filed for the posts of deputy chairman and party organiser, respectively.

Ameen said, “The objective is to return Kamla Persad-Bissessar as Prime Minister. We as a party must stand united — one party, one leader.”

Ratiram said, “Our party continues to grow as we are consolidating our base and our membership in preparing for whichever one of the elections is called first, local government or general elections. We stand behind our leader Kamla Persad Bissessar to return good governance to TT.”

Resubmissions for the same posts, contested at the last internal elections, included Dave Tancoo for chairman, Sean Sobers for policy and strategy officer, Nicholas Morris for international affairs officer and Shanty Boodram for south regional coordinator,

Neil Gosine filed nominations for the post of treasurer, Taharqa Obika for Tobago regional co-ordinator, MP Barry Padarath for central regional co-ordinator, MP Saddam Hosein for research officer and MP Vandana Mohit for education officer.

Vasant Bharath, who contested the last internal election for the post of political leader, said he would not be contesting in this election, while a previous deputy political leader contender, Ramona Ramdial, has filed for the post of elections officer.

Newsday understands there were other nominations from individual party members, but it was not confirmed if they would be contesting under any particular slate.
(Additional reporting by KEN CHEE HING)

UNC’s CURRENT NATEX:

— Political leader – Kamla Persad Bissessar

— Depuy political leaders – Lackram Bodoe, David Lee, Jearlean John

— Chairman – Dave Tancoo

— Deputy chairman – Khadijah Ameen

— Education officer – Tim Gopeesingh (acting)

— Party organsier – Ravi Ratiram

— Elections officer – Don Sylvester

— International affairs officer – Nicholas Morris

— Policy and strategy officer – Sean Sobers

— Treasurer – William Archie

— Research Officer – Monifa Andrews

— South regional coordinator – Shanty Boodram

— Northwest regional coordinator – Eli Zakour

— Central regional coordinator – Imam Rasheed Karim

— Northeast regional coordinator – Neil Gosine

— Tobago regional coordinator – Bheemal Ramlogan

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