IN SPITE of criticism that it cannot be considered a national party if it does not contest the general or local elections in Tobago, the United National Congress (UNC) has confirmed that it will not be fielding any candidates in the 2021 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.
“We don’t take part in THA. Mr Duke is there, and he is doing a good job,” UNC deputy political leader David Lee told the Newsday on Wednesday when the question of contesting was posed to him.
The Duke he referred to is THA’s Minority Leader Watson Duke, leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP).
The People’s National Movement (PNM) which controls the THA and is seeking to retain power come January 2021, has always accused Duke of being an agent of the UNC.
Duke in the past has denied that claim.
When the question of Duke being an extension of the party was posed, Lee quickly clarified, “Mr Duke has no affiliation with the UNC. He is not representing the party in Tobago.”
Lee explained that the UNC has never contested that election before. He explained when the UNC was in government as the People’s Partnership administration, the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) then led by Ashworth Jack, being part of the government, contested the THA election.
“They (TOP) contested the election, not the UNC,” Lee said.
In the present scenario, Duke’s PDP has joined forces with the Tobago Forwards (TF), now led by Pastor Terrence Baynes in an attempt to wrest control from the PNM.
The PNM won the 2017 election with a convincing 13,310 votes compared to 7,537 by PDP and 3,352 by the TF. There are approximately 50,000 eligible voters in Tobago.