|PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar meets children at Tranquility Government Primary School|
“The constitution of the party provides for what will happen if a person should go up on any other ticket except that of the party. I think the constitution provides that such a person would be expelled,” Persad-Bissessar told reporters after visiting Tranquility Government Primary School, Stanmore Avenue, Port of Spain to meet with SEA students.
This is what the party's constitution states:
"If a member of the party shall, in opposition to any party candidate, or nominee or otherwise in defiance of or contrary to any party directive or declared policy, publicly announce his intention to participate in or contest, or be a candidate or nominee for election to a seat in Parliament, or any public forum or municipal corporation, accept nomination or appointment to any such public forum or municipal corporation, shall thereupon cease to be a member of the party”.
The rule applies to any member of the party. Last Monday, UNC Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said nominations are open for the Chaguanas West Constituency by-election. That includes Warner, the former MP for CWC.
Persad-Bissessar made it clear that her party has not decided on who will contest the seat.
“No candidate has been decided, again, I repeat, the party is open for nominations; after the nominations, the process will be the screening process that will take place and then a candidate will be decided. no candidate has been approached. I have not spoken to any person to be or not to be a candidate,” she explaioned.
“There are persons who have expressed interest; I have received a few text messages, e-mails, but it is for the party process at party headquarters,” she added.
Warner told JYOTI he remains a member of the UNC and according to the announcement by his political leader he qualifies to be screened. “I will go for screening and hope they select me. The leader has acknowledged that I have served the people well." He added, "If I am not successful, I will keep my options open.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives is yet to declare the seat vacant. According to the rules the election must be held not later than 90 days from the date that the seat is declared vacant. If the Speaker make the declaration on Friday, it means the earliest date that the election can be held is June 7, which is a Friday. Since elections in Trinidad and Tobago are held on Mondays there is a possibility that the vote can be on June 10 or any date after that up to August 10.
Many people are saying that as a courtesy to the Muslim community the election date should not be within the Ramadan period of fasting. However there are mixed views on that. Many Muslims are not bothered about it, saying they would not like to see it on the day of the EID holiday, which would be around August 10.
Persad-Bissessar made it clear that the constitution sets the rules, which the government must follow. “I cannot go outside the constitution to hold it after. I have to work with the hand that has been dealt to me, which is to say that I have to count to 90 days (from the date of the declaration of the vacancy), which takes us to August 10, and I am being advised that Eid may be 9th or 10th August.
“So I cannot change that process, which was triggered not by my doing. I will have to follow the Constitution,” she said.
Persad-Bissessasr also downplayed the public fallout between Warner and Dr Suruj Rambachan.
“When there’s an election, people get more excited...All will be well. The party remains, as I said on Monday night, solid as a rock, will continue to work together and in any mass of humanity, any gathering of persons, you will have different views from time to time, but the democracy will prevail in the end,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar also stated that she has not lost touch with the people although as Prime Minister she is al;ways busy. “It is one of the reasons we have gone back into the Monday night meeting because members have been asking us to come back to them; I try as one human being to keep in touch and keep connected as much as I can. There’s always room for improvement,” she said.