Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Oropouche East MP Roodal Moonilal wave to supporters at the launch of her campaign slate for the UNC internal election in Barrackpore on June 10. Photo courtesy UNC
INCUMBENT UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her Star Team will sweep the party’s internal elections on June 26.
Interest in the election is low.
Despite growing and widespread disenchanment with the PNM, Persad-Bissessar and her slate do not help the electorate view the UNC as an alternative government to the PNM.
These were some of the findings of a North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) opinion survey on the UNC’s internal elections that was released on Wednesday.
Only three positions – political leader, elections officer and party organiser – are being contested on June 26.
Persad-Bissessar is being challenged by former UNC MP Dr Fuad Khan for the party’s leadership, which she won on January 24, 2010. She retained that post in two subsequent elections in 2015 and 2020.
Former MPs Ramona Ramdial and Dr Glenn Ramdharsingh are challenging Don Sylvester and Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram (both on the Star Team) for the respective posts of elections officer and party organiser.
Khan, Ramdial and Ramadharsingh are contesting their posts as independents. None of them have a slate as Persad-Bissessar does. Khan is campaiging for a dual leadership system with him as political leader while Persad-Bissessar would remain opposition leader.
NACTA said, “Kamla remains very popular among loyalist members and will win re-election by a landslide; she has long coattails that will take her team to victory.”
There are 17 other posts up for grabs on June 26, including deputy political leader and chairman. All of these posts are being contested unopposed by members of Persad-Bissessar’s slate. Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal is contesting one of three deputy political leader posts. Oropouche West MP Dave Tancoo is standing for re-election as UNC chairman.
Against this background, NACTA said, “(UNC) members and supporters of the UNC and the public at large say it is a virtual no-contest.”
While Khan, Ramdial and Ramdharsingh have been publicly praised for their courage in standing up against the status quo in the UNC, NACTA predicted, “They are expected to fall way short of even coming close to defeating the incumbents.”
But some UNC members and supporters believed that if Persad-Bissessar was not standing for re-election as party leader, several of the candidates on the Star Team would have faced challengers and faced certain defeat.
NACTA said, “There is public rebuke of several members of the Star Team who are most unpopular among voters.”
The survey, NACTA continued, indicates that many UNC members, supporters and swing voters are displeased with the composition of Persad-Bissessar’s slate, which does not present the UNC “as a viable alternative government in the waiting to replace the ruling PNM.”
Concerns have also been raised by UNC members and supporters about the fairness of the elections. Khan and Ramdial have publicly complained about their inability to access the party membership list.
On June 6, Tancoo rejected Khan’s claims that the party’s internal elections on December 6, 2020 were rigged.