Moonilal, Rambally differ on NACTA poll on internal elections

Dr Roodal Moonilal. - File photo
Dr Roodal Moonilal. - File photo

UNC MPs Dr Roodal Moonilal and Dinesh Rambally have expressed different views on the findings of a North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) poll about the party's internal elections on June 15.

The findings of the poll were released on May 12 and indicated that UNC supporters have concerns about the fairness of the party's internal elections and how it could impact the UNC's success in next year's general election.

Moonilal, who is also a UNC deputy political leader, did not comment on the poll's findings.

He reiterated the UNC's view about its potential to win the general election.

"The UNC has defeated the PNM in the last local government elections and the PNM was washed away in Tobago. This gives us a cautious optimism that with hard work and a laser-like focus, we will defeat the PNM in the next general elections."

In contrast, Rambally said, "I do agree that a credible, free and fair elections will strengthen the party’s chances in the 2025 general elections."

He added that the UNC's main political enemy continues to be the "PNM's incompetence and apathy."

Against this background, Rambally continued, the UNC needed to strengthen itself democratically to give it the best chance to win the next general election.

He reiterated his view that the UNC is not in this place at this time.

"The UNC party does not have leadership which inspires the broader membership and the population and, therefore, the party is likely to lose a third consecutive general election come 2025."

Rambally was concerned that the timelines set for conducting internal elections "could never facilitate a wider cross-section of the population who vote for the UNC at general elections in participating in internals."

He questioned whether this was an intentional plan on the part of certain people in the party.

Rambally hoped that proper mechanisms would be in place to ensure continuous monitoring of all the processes required to ensure that the internal elections are free and fair.

In its poll, NACTA recalled the public calls issued by five UNC MPs- Rushton Paray, Rambally, Anita Haynes Alleyne, Rodney Charles and Dr Rai Ragbir- for internal elections scheduled for next month to be held when they are constitutionally due.

The group also recalled that these MPs were publicly reprimanded by UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and other party members for making their call.

Persad-Bissessar publicly threatened to expel Paray from the UNC.

The five MPs were criticised for distracting the UNC's attention away from its general election preparations.

With the exception of the political leader's post, all other posts on the UNC's national executive (Natex) are up for grabs.

The NACTA poll was based on a sample of 432 respondents representing the demographics of the population and the party.

NACTA said, "A majority (57 per cent) of supporters of the UNC feel Kamla (Persad-Bissessar) will hold timely party election."

But within this group, NACTA continued, "81 per cent express concerns about whether it will be free and fair."

NACTA said these supporters believe "previous elections were not above remonstration and did not meet the characteristics of intra-party democracy."

Former UNC parliamentarians Vasant Bharath, Dr Fuad Khan, Ramona Ramdial and Devant Maharaj have complained of numerous voter irregularities in previous elections, which appeared to give an unfair advantage to Persad-Bissessar and/or any slate of candidates she supports.

Khan has claimed that Persad-Bissessar's opponents are not being given proper voter lists and the UNC MP and councillor offices are being used by Persad-Bissessar's supporters to campaign for members of slates endorsed by her.

NACTA said, "The public feels that queries and issues on membership and eligible voters and allegations of skullduggeries in previous elections must be addressed."

The group added that based on the findings of this poll and previous surveys conducted in January, last October and August, "if the UNC does not undergo change, the PNM is on course to a third successive victory in next year’s general elections."

In its survey in January, NACTA said a majority of respondents believed Persad-Bissessar should resign as UNC leader to give the party a better chance of winning the next general election.

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