The United National Congress (UNC) yesterday denied that it had proposed former public service head Reginald Dumas to succeed President Anthony Carmona whose term of office expires in March next year.
“I do not know where that name came from. Somebody started that rumour. Not the UNC. The UNC never put forward that name,” UNC deputy leader David Lee said yesterday. Dumas name surfaced as a candidate for president, as well as retired Justice of Appeal Rolston Nelson.
Dumas has responded, saying that he appreciated the support but is not interested in being president. Dumas said, “I want to make it clear that I am not, repeat not, a candidate for the presidency, and, have no intention whatsoever of being, or even seeking to be a candidate. May I also say that Trinidad and Tobago is increasingly riven by divisions of all kinds – racial, political, personal etc. Finger-pointing, snide and condescending remarks, and, the public expression of unfortunate sentiments have become the norm. Our non-executive president, whoever he or she may be, is our citizen Number One whose election should not, in my view, be the subject of party political machinations consequently, of the very fissures that more and more afflict us.” Lee told Newsday yesterday the UNC never proposed Dumas nor retired Industrial Court judge Gladys Gafoor as possible choices for the presidency.
Lee said, “I don’t know if there is another opposition that proposed Mr Dumas. That was never an official statement by the party or the Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar. I want to state categorically that we have not proposed any names because we have not caucused as yet on the subject. We will be caucusing soon and when we meet and reach an agreement the Opposition Leader would decide if there is a strong name and whether she would like to propose that name to the electoral college before it meets on January 19.”
Lee also said that the UNC is not quite certain if it will propose an alternative candidate. He said, “What we are also saying is that we do not know what candidate the People’s National Movement has proposed and whether we would agree or not agree with their choice. To date, the only name suggested by the media is retired judge Rolston Nelson. Again, that is not an official statement from the Government. I expect that before the UNC caucus, Mrs Persad-Bissessar would engage in some official communication with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley with respect to that. From an official party point of view we have not proposed any name. Mrs Persad-Bissessar is in charge of communicating that matter and carrying the process forward.”
Dumas also suggested that it would be feasible, instead of another adversarial scenario, to have the three components of the electoral college– Government, Opposition and Independents–consult as many members of the public as possible in the short time remaining, then sit together in advance of the election, and agree on a single person.
Yesterday, chairman of the Dr Eric Williams Memorial Committee Reginald Vidale took it one step further. Vidale proposed constitutional changes that could see all citizens of TT who are eligible to vote, elect the president rather than leave it up to a few people. Vidal said, “The president is not the president of parliament, he is the president of the people of TT.”