INCUMBENT PNM Tobago Council political leader Kelvin Charles believes whatever the outcome of the internal elections, people within the party will need time to heal. He implored them, however, to heal quickly as the general elections beckons later this year.
Charles was speaking to the media on Sunday morning after voting at the Bethesda Multipurpose Facility, Plymouth.
Charles, the Chief Secretary, is being challenged for leadership of the PNM by former THA presiding officer Dr Denise Tsoiafatt Angus, Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack and ambassador to Costa Rica Tracy Davidson-Celestine.
With four candidates vying for the position of political leader, PNM members have not been completely united leading up to the internal elections and Charles was questioned on the best way moving forward.
He said, “It is not uncommon for that to happen because what you’re treating with, in a very real sense, are divided loyalties, because people have to choose. Is there is an emotion that goes with that and arguably the way to treat with that post (elections) is, you must have a kind of repulsion, so that people can come together and so on. But at the same time, you have to give people time to heal because people respond to disappointments in different ways and at different speeds.
He added, “One has to offer the proverbial olive branch and prevail upon persons to understand that at the end of the (day), we are members of the same body and what we need to do is to move quickly past our hurt and organise ourselves and mobilise for the greater challenges that lie ahead.”
Charles said he would have no problems assisting in the healing process as he has experience in that regard.
“The core personality of an individual does not change, and I have a history, or a record. In 2016 (PNM elections), many of those who support me today did not support me then. I did not alienate them, I reached out to them. The simple fact of the matter is that you can take a horse to the water but you cannot make it to drink. So, I shall do what I have done in the past and what I am predisposed or inclined to do and leave it to them and to the will of the master.
“There has never been any victimisation,” he said.
Addressing allegations of expensive elections campaigns even with a general election (2020) and a THA elections (2021) on the horizon, Charles said: “To those who it appears have been spending vast sums of monies, that question has to be directed to them. Some of us ran very conservative campaigns.”
Charles declined to say how much was spent on his campaign.
“You think I would tell you that, I won’t tell you that,” he chuckled.
On the voting process, Charles said everything was smooth but he reminded all that with 17 positions up for grabs voters would not be in and out the voting booth quickly.
“The challenge, however, is taking a little time because there are 17 positions, so one has to vote 17 times. So, if it (was just) one or two or three (positions), then it would move faster but as it is, given what is happening, I think they’re doing quite well.”
Charles said he considered himself a “trailblazer” within the PNM with the one man, one vote policy being implemented for all 17 positions for the first time.
“I have been the one creating history.
“I was elected political leader for the very first time when the Tobago Council had its elections and I am political leader again when we are utilising the one man, one vote for all 17 positions, a position that I advocated because I thought that it was unfair really to select a few persons by the one man, one vote and the rest by a delegate system,” he said.