Clint Chan Tack
FORMER Barataria/San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan and former Couva North MP Ramona Ramdial are adamant that the UNC has no future under re-elected political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. While they will remain UNC members, Khan and Ramdial made it clear they will not be working with Persad-Bissessar or other members of her Star Team slate, who swept all 17 posts on the UNC’s national executive (natex) that were up for grabs in the party’s internal elections on Sunday.
A statement issued on Monday by the UNC congratulated Persad-Bissessar and her slate for their landslide victory.
Speaking at her Siparia constituency office on Sunday, Persad-Bissessar said her team received 97 per cent of the vote and 13,000 people voted in the elections.
The party said preliminary figures showed 13,000 people voted, but the Star team got 95 per cent of the votes cast. The final results will be released on Friday.
In his first response to the results on Sunday, Khan said, “I accept the results, but I will only concede in a free and fair election.”
A day later, his position was unchanged.
“The results were expected, based on the method and approach of the UNC party, in preference for the Star Team and how they operated the election system.”
Khan reiterated his claim that all the lists with UNC members’ names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers “were given to the Star Team to work.”
With that information, he continued, Star Team members worked out of UNC constituency offices to contact party members to encourage them to vote for its candidates.
“They (Star Team) were told never to let that list leave those offices.”
Khan, Ramdial and former Caroni Central MP Dr Glenn Ramdharsingh were the only independent candidates in the elections. They unsuccessfully contested the posts of political leader, elections officer and and party organiser respectively.
Sources told Newsday t unofficial preliminary results had Persad-Bissessar receiving 11,648 votes while Khan got 648. Ramdial received 1,075 votes to Don Sylvester’s 10,097 votes. Ramdharsingh polled 1,270 votes to Ravi Ratiram’s 10,232 votes.
Khan said, “Yes the results are what they were expected to be, and it was done deliberately to make sure that Kamla and the Star Team got a convincing win to look good in the eyes of the public.”
While he will remain a UNC member, Khan did not see himself being active in politics in the near future.
“My future in politics is bleak. I think I’ll go into the private sector, where there is fairness, transparency, and at the same time, anything that is done in the private sector has consequences.”
Khan believed he would remain in the private sector for a long time.
“What I would say is that I don’t intend to speak to anybody who feels comfortable in having an unfair process and sitting at the head of this unfair process.”
Khan was unfazed if anyone accuses him of sour grapes after his loss to Persad-Bissessar.
“At the end of the day, the thinking person who is intelligent will see that the elections were stolen. (UNC founder) Basdeo Panday was correct when he said free and fair elections are a thing of the past in the UNC.”
He had advice for any UNC member who dared to challenge Persad-Bissessar and her loyalists for control of the party.
“Don’t even dream about it. You are going to lose, and you are going to lose your money.”
Ramdial agreed with Khan and doubted that 13,000 people had voted. Her preliminary counts at the close of the polls on Sunday suggested fewer than 10,000 people voted.
“The official results have not yet been released, which is baffling, as the count ended last night, with all agents receiving their statements of the polls.”
She believed Sunday’s internal elections would see the lowest voter turnout in the UNC’s history. “Persons whose names were not on the membership list were allowed to vote, even though it was a clear election rule that such would not be allowed.”
Ramdial also claimed clerks in polling stations were instructing UNC members to vote for the Star Team’s candidates
“The membership was still receiving phone calls and text messages throughout yesterday’s (Sunday’s) poll soliciting votes for the star slate.”
Ramdial promised all these irregularities and information to support her claims would be sent to the UNC’s internal elections committee for redress.
Ramdial will remain a UNC member and ” continue to advocate for the best national leadership.” She promised to continue to be a voice for the motivated and conscientious UNC members who voted for Khan, Ramdharsingh and herself.
“In spite of all of these challenges, I still believe the UNC is the best political vehicle to govern our country – but not under the current leadership of Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar.”
Like Ramdial, Ramadharsingh believed the UNC offered the best political option to the population. But he disagreed with Khan and Ramdial about Persad-Bissessar’s suitability as party leader. He believed she would be the next prime minister of TT. Ramadharsingh promised to serve Persad-Bissessar as political leader, the party and the country in whatever role he is called on to do so.
He was satisfied that he fought the good fight and encouraged democracy in the UNC.
But he agreed with Khan and Ramdial about Persad-Bissessar’s slate having an unfair advantage in the elections.
“The (Star Team) slate seems to be very difficult to compete with, for many reasons.”