Former minister in the Ministry of Finance Mariano Browne yesterday did not confirm or deny speculation he is considering a bid for the People’s National Movement’s (PNM’s) leadership in the upcoming internal election.
Well-placed party sources said Browne, who served as minister under the former Patrick Manning administration, is one of at least three people who have expressed an interest in challenging Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for the position of political leader.
However, when contacted, Browne would only say: “These are early days yet. I don’t know...they are having elections?”
Told that the date was yet to be announced, he added: “That is the point. They had announced a time table and the elections were supposed to take place in June. So, here we are and it is missing in action.”
Sources said, though, Browne and others were asked during a meeting in Diego Martin about three months ago to consider challenging Rowley for the party’s leadership. Among those at the meeting, sources said, was a former Diego Martin MP and senior party activist.
Sources said while many supported Rowley for leader, others were unimpressed with his stewardship.
“There is a view among many people that the party has shifted from its moorings and lost touch with the grassroots,” one long-standing party member told Sunday Newsday. During the post-general council news conference at Balisier House on March 18, PNM chairman Franklin Khan told reporters the party was gearing up for the internal poll.
On that occasion, he gave April 30 as the deadline date for new members to register with the party and be eligible to vote.
He said May 11 was approved as the date for the publication of the preliminary voters’ list while the final list of electors was due to be published on Tuesday.
Khan said, then, the political leader would announce the date of the internal party election at the next general council meeting.
Yesterday, general secretary Daniel Dookie said the lists were likely to be discussed at the next meeting of the general council.
“We are putting things in place.”
Dookie said the party was currently engaged in a membership verification exercise “to acquire information so that we can act appropriately when the time comes.”
“That has been ongoing and the latest report I have regarding that is that it is progressing quite well.”
He said the exercise should be completed within the next two months.
Dookie said the party was also carrying out various activities, including walkabouts and cottage meetings, in constituencies.
He said the party is expected to host an indoor public meeting on Thursday in the San Juan/Barataria constituency at which the PM will deliver the feature address.
Rowley defeated his sole challenger, former Arima MP Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, in the May 18, 2014, internal election.
In 1996, Rowley had challenged late Prime Minister Patrick Manning for the leadership but lost.