(UPDATED) Confusion over Fuad Abu Bakr's PNM ‘screening’

Fuad Abu Bakr moments after he arrived at Queen's Hall in Port of Spain hoping to be screened to contest the Port of Spain South seat on behalf of the PNM.   PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale
Fuad Abu Bakr moments after he arrived at Queen's Hall in Port of Spain hoping to be screened to contest the Port of Spain South seat on behalf of the PNM. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale

FORMER political leader of the New National Vision (NNV) Fuad Abu Bakr showed up at the People's National Movement screening for the Port of Spain South seat on Thursday evening, despite an earlier statement from the party that he was not a nominee.

Abu Bakr waited in the lobby at Queen's Hall, St Ann's where he said he expected to meet with PNM general secretary Foster Cummings to sort out "an issue" with his paperwork. He told reporters he had relinquished leadership of the NNV which he formed in 2010.

"I'm inspired to make this effort for the people of Port of Spain South because they are people who have been disenfranchised and under-represented. As a young black man, I feel I can inspire them to a more fruitful and positive direction. I am confident that based on my conversations with the leadership...that they want to be more connected to the ground and youth-oriented," he told reporters.

Earlier, Abu Bakr had told the media that he would be screened by the ruling party to contest the seat in the general election.

But in response, PNM PRO Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing issued a release saying the party has received no nomination for Abu Bakr and he was not scheduled to be screened.

Lezama-Lee Sing told Newsday in a telephone interview that the deadline date was May 22 and Abu Bakr's name was not on the list of nominees. She added, the only people who can be screened are those whose names have been put forward by the constituency screening committee.

"If he was interested, we called nominations a while ago and the deadline has passed and we have no nomination for Mr Abu Bakr."

Abu Bakr, however, told Newsday that he had no knowledge of what was stated in the release.

"Everything is in order as far as I know."

He said he took the initiative to approach the PNM to be screened. He explained that he has been working in the political field for quite some time and was a young, vibrant person.

"The PNM seems to want to push those people into positions of leadership."

He pointed out that media personality and new senator Jason Williams has gone forward and has been screened for the Barataria/San Juan constituency.

Asked about the NNV, which has contested both general and local government elections, he said the party will continue to exist. He said the other members of the party understand the move that he has made and many would be active in his campaign, if successful.

Abu Bakr is the son of Jamaat al Muslimeen head and 1990 attempted coup mastermind Yasin Abu Bakr.

Dr Rowley, the Prime Minister and PNM political leader, when questioned at the post-Cabinet briefing, said he did not know if Abu Bakr was a member of the party and that his name was not on the list of people to be screened.

The incumbent MP for Port of Spain South is Marlene McDonald who lost her portfolio as public administration minister after she was charged with corruption in a matter that is still before the court. There was no sign of McDonald at either screening location, Balisier House or Queen's Hall, up to news time.

Sports personalities, Olympian Cleopatra Borel and TTOC president Brian Lewis were also hopeful to be chosen as the PNM candidate for the seat, so too the party's constituency executive chairman Wendell Stephens. Former West Indies cricketer Mervyn Dillon was also screened Thursday for the Toco/Sangre Grande seat. Other seats screened for were Point Fortin, Diego Martin Central, Oropouche East and La Brea.


"(UPDATED) Confusion over Fuad Abu Bakr’s PNM ‘screening’"

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