36 people seek to contest 17 positions in UNC internal election

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Radio station owner Robert Amar after filing his nomination to contest the position of deputy political leader of the United National Congress, in Chaguanas on May 25. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Nominations closed on May 25 for 17 positions in the United National Congress (UNC) national executive election on June 15.

A total of 36 submitted nominations, according to a release from the party’s Election Management Committee.

The committee, headed by attorney Darrell Allahar, said it would consider the nominations and inform candidates if they were “validly nominated” by June 3.

According to section five of the UNC’s manual and rules for the election, for a candidate to be eligible to contest the election, they must be a member of the party for at least 12 months, be in good financial standing and not be the subject of any pending disciplinary charges of the party.

Candidates who wish to withdraw their application, have until 4 pm on June 1, to do so.

Allahar told Newsday he could not divulge the names of those who submitted nominations. He assured that the committee is free from any interference.

“The committee, made up of independent professionals, has been entrusted with the conduct of these elections in a fair and transparent manner,” he said.

“The committee is not answerable to anyone and is guided by the rules and the constitution of the party.”

The other members of the committee are Dr Allen Sammy and Marilyn Martin.

Prospective candidates were required to complete a nomination form and submit it, along with a $500 application fee, to the party’s Mulchan Seuchan Road, Chaguanas headquarters by 4 pm on May 25.

Candidates are not allowed to seek to contest more than one position.

Around 1 pm radio station owner and former UNC senator Robert Amar submitted his nomination. He told reporters he intends, for the second time, to contest the position of one of three deputy political leaders as an independent candidate.

“Slates really defeats the purpose. Whoever puts the slate out is the totalitarian leader. So we are back to the norm. It means to say that when the boss at the top calls the shot, whoever is the boss, everybody has to listen,” he said.

“But Trinidad needs more independence. It needs people who are thinking about the country and that’s one of the things I am concerned about.”

The current deputy leaders of the party are Opposition Senator Jearlean John, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal and Point-a-Pierre MP David Lee.

Although most of the existing executive members are tight-lipped on whether they will be recontesting, Amar already has one known challenger; Mayaro MP Rushton Paray. The leader of the United Patriots slate signalled he would be running for deputy political leader. The post of political leader is not up for grabs in this election.

Paray, who broke ranks in March, called on political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to hold the election when it was constitutionally due. Lending support to him was Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally, Naparima MP Rodney Charles, Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes-Alleyne and Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Dr Rai Ragbir.

Paray was expected to announce his slate at Signature Hall on May 25 while a slate supported by Persad-Bissessar will be announced on May 27.

Party positions on the UNC national executive

• Three deputy political leaders

• Chairman

• Deputy Chairman

• Treasurer

• Policy and strategy officer

• Education officer

• Research officer

• Elections officer

• Party organiser

• International relations officer

• North West regional representative

• North East regional representative

• Tobago regional representative

• Central regional representative

• South regional representative