Kamla focused on UNC natex poll, shrugs off Gary’s letter

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar –

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says she will deal with “external people” after the UNC’s internal elections are over.

She made this comment after she voted at Debe Secondary School on June 15.

The comment referred to a letter sent to her on June 12 by National Transformation Alliance (NTA) political leader Gary Griffith.

In his letter, Griffith asked her to clarify whether or not the NTA and UNC will form an alliance to challenge the PNM in next year’s general election.

Griffith also asked Persad-Bissessar to respond to comments reportedly made by UNC deputy leader Jearlean John against him.

When asked whether she had a response to Griffith’s letter, Persad-Bissessar said,”I will deal with external people after today please.”

She added, “Those matters will be dealt with. I don’t want to spoil the day please.”

Persad-Bissessar did not comment on any of the contents of Griffith’s letter.

The NTA and UNC contested last August’s local government elections as a coalition against the PNM.

Those elections ended in a 7-7 tie between the PNM and UNC.

The NTA did not win any electoral districts in any of the 14 local government corporations in those elections.

On May 31, Griffith said if the UNC if it did not want to form a proper alliance with the NTA to contest the next general election against the PNM, the NTA will fight both parties across the board in all 41 constituencies.

He said in such a scenario, the NTA would direct the majority of its political resources into key marginal constituencies of which the PNM and UNC must win a majority to be elected to government in 2025.

In February, Griffith and Persad-Bissessar fell out over statements Persad-Bissessar made at a UNC public meeting about other parties taking advantage of the UNC’s resources but contributing nothing in return.

Griffith said there were other members of the current UNC natex who believed the party could win the next election on its own.

The NTA, Griffith continued, would not allow itself to be the victim of “domestic political violence” in an arrangement which sees the UNC contesting its strongholds and the marginals, but leaving the NTA to fight the PNM in 12-15 of its safe seats.

Any arrangement which sees UNC candidates benefiting from NTA votes, with no reciprocation, is unacceptable to Griffith.

Griffith, a former police commissioner, said he would not allow the NTA to be the minority partner in any coalition government or be part of any government which negotiates with criminal elements in any form or fashion.

As a former national security adviser to Persad-Bissessar and national security minister in the PP government, Griffith recalled instances of that owing to what he said were decisions taken by people in the lower echelons of government ministries.

While he hoped the UNC’s new natex would see an alliance with the NTA, Griffith said, “If they…insist that they will go up for all of the seats, then the NTA will do what is required. We are not going to bow to pressure and just succumb to accept the PNM seats. We will go up for all the marginal seats as well.”

Griffith reiterated that the only party the NTA has been trying to form an alliance with is the UNC, and its future hinges on the outcome of the UNC internal elections.

“Come the 16th of June, we will know what is to be done.”