Kamla, Dookeran say Manning scared of united front

(Trinidad Express) – Prime Minister Patrick Manning is panicking; he is desperate and fears that on May 24 he will lose the general election, UNC and COP political leaders Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Winston Dookeran say.

Persad-Bissessar was commenting on the recent attacks on members of the Opposition by Manning, the shake-up in the PNM’s election line-up of candidates to contest seats and the deportation of American strategist Bernard Campbell last week.

“I think he (Manning) is a scared man. I believe he is panicking and they will use every dirty trick in the book to win the election,” Persad-Bissessar told the Express by phone on Sunday afternoon.

She urged her supporters to keep their eye on the ball and not lose focus.

’We must continue to remain focused and to work very hard to ensure the people of the country get the change they are longing for and hoping for. Our supporters must not become complacent thinking the battle is over, it is not over until the last vote is counted,’ she said.

Persad-Bissessar said as the united force continues its campaigns and meetings throughout the country, the support has been overwhelming and she has no doubt the people are ready for change.

She warned, however, that Manning will continue his attacks.

Last week, Manning, during the PNM’s public meetings, spoke out against members of the unity coalition, including NJAC leader Makandal Daaga, UNC chairman Jack Warner, UNC deputy leader Suruj Rambachan and chairman of the Movement for Social Justice Errol McLeod, saying all these men had clouds hanging over their heads.

Sources told the Express that the PNM is doing all that it can to ensure victory, including getting rid of any person who may spoil its chances at the polls.

The source said the departure of Princes Town/Tableland candidate Peter Taylor was one such move. Taylor stepped down as the candidate on Friday, two days after he was jeered and booed by constituents at Fifth Company, Moruga. Manning said he did not think Taylor’s decision was influenced by this; adding Taylor indicated that he had some personal issues to attend to.

So far, incumbent Arima MP Pennelope Beckles has been replaced; Sports Minister Gary Hunt and Labour Minister Rennie Dumas have stepped aside; and Toco/Sangre Grande MP Indra Sinanan Ojah Maharaj, who was also booed during a walkabout in her constituency, was also replaced.

In explaining the reason for some of his choices, Manning had indicated that he was going for young blood and fresh faces. However, Persad-Bissessar said Manning was not fooling the public with this statement.

Dookeran, meanwhile, said Manning’s behaviour was indicative of a leader who had lost control long ago.

“I think he (Manning) has panicked a long time and now we are seeing the expression of a government that has collapsed mid-term and he really does not know what to do to restore the confidence,” Dookeran said at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, where he and COP supporters had gathered for a crime protest.

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