Panday: Persad-Bissessar is anti-President

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

IN ATTENDANCE: Former prime minister Basdeo Panday and his daughter Mickela, centre, during the inauguration ceremony for the country’s seventh President Christine Kangaloo on Monday at the Queen’s Park Savannah. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE –

THE absence of any Opposition UNC members at the inauguration of the country’s seventh President on Monday, did not surprise UNC founder, former political leader and former prime minister Basdeo Panday.

Journalists who covered the inauguration at the Queen’s Park Savannah did not see UNC political leader and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar as newly sworn-in President Christine Kangaloo addressed her (Persad-Bissessar) during the opening of her inauguration speech.

All attempts to contact Persad-Bissessar for a comment were unsuccessful.

Panday, who was spotted at the event with his daughter Mickela, and at the reception which immediately followed at NAPA (the National Academy for the Performing Arts), told Newsday he thought the President’s plan – outlined in her speech – were ambitious.

Asked how he felt about being the only UNC member at the swearing-in, Panday, 89, said, “I am not a UNC (member), you forget I get expelled from the party.”

He said the non-attendance of the Opposition was symbolic of the feelings of the Opposition Leader.

JOVIAL: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is caught in a jovial moment with former prime minister Basdeo Panday and his daughter Mickela during the reception at NAPA which following the inauguration of President Christine Kangaloo on Monday. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE –

“She’s anti-President, no matter who the President is,” Panday said. UNC sources told Newsday Persad-Bissessar planned to speak on the inauguration when she spoke the party’s Monday night forum.

Contacted for comment on the visible absence of high-profile UNC members including Persad-Bissessar at Kangaloo’s inauguration, political analyst Bishnu Ragoonath said he will comment after the UNC explains why none of its members were present.

Attorney and Tobago Business Chamber president Martin George told Newsday the Opposition must be mindful on how it chooses to express its dissatisfaction.

“It would be a furtherance of their protest, which they articulated in relation to the fact that the President had former ties with the ruling party, the PNM. I guess the Opposition felt this was their way of showing their disfavour and disinclination to support her appointments as President.

“My concern though, is that while we must always be able to express our protests and our displeasure with events, we must always be careful that we do so in a manner that still shows respect for the office, for institutions of state and insistent pillars of governance in TT.”