Manya people whom the Opposition had in mind to propose as their candidate to be next President, are afraid to consent to nomination because of potential personal attacks, United National Congress (UNC) deputy political leader Khadijah Ameen told Newsday yesterday.
“Unless the Government agrees, then any person who the UNC nominates will not win, so the potential candidate is fearful of ‘putting themselves out there unnecessarily’,” Ameen said, adding that the UNC has several worthy people in mind, but when approached, all of them thought it would be in vain and simply not worth the trouble.
“A number of people were cautious about that. They said, ‘leave me out of your bachannal’. People are afraid to serve because the public, the media and political opponents seek to tarnish your name. People are very sceptical and unwilling to come forward to serve their country. It should be a privilege to be nominated, but any person the UNC puts forward, the PNM (People’s National Movement) will try to tarnish.” She said that since the Government proposed retired judge Paula Mae Weekes last Friday, the Opposition has not held any formal caucus but MPs are very much staying in touch with each other informally.
“We’re in the age of technology and everybody’s in the loop. We continue our discussions.” They had caucused extensively before Friday, when UNC leader and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley met on the issue of the country’s next President. Ameen said that mitigating against a caucus was the fact that several MPs are now out of the country at the invitation of the Government of India.
So far, the Opposition has said it has no objection to Weekes’ nomination, but Persad-Bissessar has not indicated whether the Opposition will support Weekes or offer their own nominee.
Last Friday, after a “cordial and productive” meeting with Rowley, Persad-Bissessar had said the Opposition wants to work with Government to move forward the process of selecting a President and mindful that today is the deadline for nominations, she promised to communicate the Opposition’s decision to the Office of Prime Minister at the earliest opportunity.