Chair of the Tobago Festivals Commission Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus insists she has not decided whether to contest the Scarborough/ Calder Hall district as an independent candidate. Sources told Newsday, the former Tobago House of Assembly (THA) presiding officer is expected to file her nomination papers on Monday for the January 25 THA election.
But in an interview with Newsday on Sunday, Tsoiafatt-Angus said, "I have not made a decision. I don't know where you all got that information. I have not been discussing it with anyone."
Asked whether contesting the seat is something she is considering, Tsoiafatt Angus said, "It's been over the news, party groups have been clamouring for it."
A weary-sounding Tsoiafatt-Angus ended the conversation saying, "I have a long night ahead."
The dissension in the PNM ranks has been evident since its screening committee chose Marslyn Melville-Jack as the candidate for Scarborough/Calder Hall.
It has been reported that three of the party's five party groups had favoured Tsoiafatt-Angus.
Party groups have been unsuccessfully lobbying the party's hierarchy for the last two months to reverse the decision.
A letter to the PNM Tobago Council by party supporters claimed Melville-Jack's selection was a "slap in the face" and warned it could cost the party the seat in the election.
PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine said on Tuesday the party stands by its decision.
“The thing is that you will always have those who are for and those who are against when a candidate has been selected,” she said.
“And at this point in time, we are very satisfied with the outcome of that process and the candidate who has been selected to bring home that seat on behalf of the PNM.”
Davidson-Celestine called on the people of Scarborough/Calder Hall to rally around Melville-Jack.
“I am hoping that...those persons will come to embrace the decision made by the screening committee and the PNM and let us go forward in one accord to continue to build that electoral district and by extension, all of Tobago,” she said.
In a WhatsApp voice note sent to the media on Sunday, Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke said he was not surprised by reports that Tsoiafatt-Angus was going to throw her hat in the ring.
"Watson Solomon Duke is not surprised; the PDP is not surprised; the right-minded people of Tobago, they are not surprised. However, I have always seen Dr Tsoiafatt as independent of the PNM. She has been ostracised so many times by the very political gang that swore to protect and promote her interest.
"Whenever she expressed her interest to lead they shut her down. I observed that in particular when Tracy Davidson-Celestine ran for leadership. She would have openly gained the support of Dr Denise Tsoiafatt who ran also for leadership. Surprisingly, as soon as Tracy went one-on-one (with) then chief secretary Mr Charles and she won, nothing was heard of Dr Denise Tsoiafatt anymore. She was simply thrown in the bushes."
Duke said the treatment of Tsoiafatt-Angus was not an anomaly.
"She has finally come to her senses and she is running against the PNM. This is not a fight for power. Dr Denise is now running against the PNM gang. She wants to run, she wants to win, because the PNM is not nice. We, the PDP, knew this a long time ago and we could have told her that if she had listened."