UNITED National Congress (UNC) leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said her party will not be deterred by a bogus list of candidates to fight any snap general election if called before the due date of 2020. The list was emailed to media houses on an official-looking UNC letterhead in the name of UNC supporter Vaughn Ramdeen, who later denied sending it and was at a loss as to why anyone would set up a fake email account in his name to do so.
The letter purported to be sent by Persad-Bissessar to constituency chairmen and National Executive members. Warning of a possible snap election, the bogus letter asked UNC officials to give full support to candidates as polling said the party could win a snap election.
“The custom of screening candidates has been waived in the event of a snap election to ensure victory at the polls for the UNC.” Persad-Bissessar denied the letter was valid, as did other UNC officials.
She told Newsday, “That’s obviously not official UNC correspondence. The person called me today and said he never issued that statement but someone had used his profile and that he will now report it.” Persad-Bissessar said the UNC has chosen no candidates yet. “In my New Year’s message I said we’ll open up nominations and screening will take place.
“We have no candidates at the moment. It is someone making mischief and fraudulently using someone else’s profile.” She blamed the bogus letter on mischief makers bent on stopping the changes proposed by the UNC. “I condemn it as a desperate attempt to put a spoke in the wheel of changes I had announced that we will be opening nominations and screening candidates.”
Persad-Bissessar said anyone acting fraudulently was up to no good. “This will not deter us. We’ll make the change for the re-building of our party to ensure victory will come.” UNC deputy leader David Lee told Newsday, “I think it’s just mischievousness at work, trying to drive disunity within the ranks of Opposition sitting MPs.
“It’s pure mischief and I expect much more to come. It’s open season.” He said it was a way to try to divert the narrative from crime, joblessness and the economic doldrums. Lee had never heard of Ramdeen before.
Former UNC minister and MP Winston “Gypsy” Peters, whom the list named as Mayaro candidate, did not think the list was true. “Someone is just being mischievous. It is some nonsense, foolishness. I don’t know who it is. I won’t even dignify it.”
Barataria/San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan told Newsday, “Some jackass decided to make some trouble and you can quote me on that. Don’t try to make sense out of nonsense.” Given that the list named Senator Saddam Hosein for Khan’s seat, Newsday tested the list by asking if Khan had ever said (or heard) that he’d not stand for re-election.
He replied that he would lose no sleep over whether or not he went up again, adding the selection was up to the party and its leader. Khan said an MP must know their own worth, if deselected. UNC PRO Anita Haynes said, “We have our official channels and it did not come from us. We are not speculating, but it did not come from us.”
She said the dream-team list was contrary to Persad-Bissessar’s announcement in her New Year’s message that the party would be screening for the 2019 local and 2020 general elections after the congress this month. “We will be opening nominations, so that list is premature. It did not come from us. We are not bothered by it.”
As the bogus document listed Haynes as a nominee for Fyzabad, Newsday asked if she would ever considering contesting that seat. “I would screen once an election is called. There is space for young people, but I would look to see where the party needs me most. It would have to be very strategic. Meanwhile we in the party are doing all the groundwork.”
“IT WASN’T ME”
Ramdeen yesterday called media houses to distance himself from the email. Earlier, he posted a denial on the Opposition-linked Facebook page, Your Voice, saying, “I did not send out any of this. Someone used my Facebook name to create a fake email account to send out fake emails using the party’s logo to create mischief. Hopefully this can be traced.”
Newsday asked him if he knew how it all came about. Ramdeen replied, “I honestly don’t know. I’m confused about it.
“It’s somebody on Facebook. I don’t know the intention. I’m just confused about the whole thing.
“Yesterday was my birthday and I was home celebrating with my family, when this happened.” Asked his link with the UNC, he said, “I’m just like a normal member but don’t hold any position or anything like that.” He said he was a supporter of Persad-Bissessar.
Asked if the letter had caused confusion, he said no. “As you go through the letter you will see a set of grammatical errors on it, so you could see it is fake.”