OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar was re-elected UNC political leader as she and her Star Team made a clean sweep of the party’s internal elections on Sunday.
In declaring victory at her Siparia constituency office close to 11 pm, Persad-Bissessar thanked the approximately 13,000 UNC members and supporters who came out despite heavy rain earlier in the day to vote for her and her Star Team.
She said there would be no virtual meeting on Monday evening, as UNC officials and members will be helping people in their various districts who were affected by the rain and any flooding that happened on Sunday.
Voting was still in progress as she spoke, but Persad-Bissessar said approximately 97 per cent of the vote was in favour of her Star Team.
Preliminary results showed she was far ahead of her sole challenger, former Barataria/San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan, in several areas.
In La Horquetta/Talparo, Persad-Bissessar got 455 votes while Khan got eight. In Oropouche East, Khan could only get three votes and Persad-Bissessar got 146.
Former UNC MPs Ramona Ramdial and Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, who ran as independent candidates like Khan, failed to get any traction in their bids for elections officer and party organiser.
Those posts were won by Star Team candidates Don Sylvester and Ravi Ratiram respectively.
Persad-Bissessar thanked UNC members and supporters for the overwhelming mandate they gave her and her slate to lead the party. Regardless of whether she held a post in the party or not, she vowed to continue to serve the UNC until death.
“I am so proud of the UNC family. The loyal and loving members of the UNC came out in their thousands. My resolve to fight is even stronger.”
Without calling names, Persad-Bissessar slammed UNC members who she claimed insulted the party supporters at every opportunity while asking for their support.
“Our party has shown, the rank and file of the membership has reinforced my resolve to promote the children of our rank and file.”
She said there was no room for any political dynasty, caste and class in the UNC any more.
To unnamed detractors and defeated opponents in the elections, Persad-Bissessar said, “Your constant attacks, your constant ridicule and attempts to belittle the rank-and-file members of our party in order to advance your own selfish aims have again proven to be worthless.”
She told these people they had to respect UNC members the way she and her team did.
“If you want to come together, you are welcome – but you must stop your thoughtless and crazy behaviour.”
Persad-Bissessar said she and the UNC’s new leadership will now focus on preparing the party for local government elections this year and the general election in 2025.
“Mr Rowley and your team, here we come. We are ready.”
Khan commented, “I accept the results but I will only concede in a free and fair election.”
He pointed out that Persad-Bissessar and her loyalists had seemed unable to replicate their performance in Sunday’s internal elections in the last two general elections.
“Maybe if one participates in elections and is able to manipulate the total process with an unfair upper hand which is the result of incumbency, then the result is a unanimous win.’
Ramdial agreed with Khan that the elections were unfair, and claimed they were rigged.
“MPs and senators were out in full force at every voting venue to ensure votes for the Star Team,” she said.
Ramdial also claimed complaints about this UNC members and supporters went unheeded by the elections management committee.
Ramadharsingh was satisfied he did his best to encourage UNC members and supporters to vote for him.
But he also said, “The (Star Team) slate seems to be very difficult to compete with for many reasons.”
In conceding defeat, Ramadharsingh promised to serve Persad-Bissessar as political leader, the party and the country in whatever role he is called on to do so.
He believed Persad-Bisssessar would be “the next prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.”
A North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) opinion survey released on June 22 had predicted a clean sweep for Persad-Bissessar and her slate.
It also reported that interest in the elections was low, sayingmany UNC members, supporters and floating voters did not believe Persad-Bissessar and her slate did not help the electorate view the UNC as an alternative government.
Political leader: Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Chairman: Dave Tancoo
Deputy political leaders: Dr Roodal Moonilal, David Lee, Jearlean John
Vice-chairman: Khadijah Ameen
Education officer: Vandana Mohit
Research officer: Saddam Hosein
Elections officer: Don Sylvester
Party organiser: Ravi Ratiram
Treasurer: Neil Gosine
Tobago regional co-ordinator: Taharqa Obika
Policy and strategy co-ordinator: Sean Sobers
International relations officer: Wilfred Morris
South co-ordinator: Shanti Boodram
Central co-ordinator: Barry Padarath
Northwest co-ordinator: Eli Zakour