Valerie Garrido-Lowe says she will remain the leader of the United Force and would dispel attempts by rival executive members of the party to oust her from the position.
Garrido-Lowe told this newspaper by phone from the party’s base at Unity House yesterday, “As far as I am concerned I was elected to the position of party leader on May 29 by the executive of the party when Manzoor Nadir stepped down as leader.” She said too that she will not “pay attention to the whole sham of a meeting which they called without my presence or knowledge” and she accused Nadir of being the instigator of a plot to oust her from the party.
Nadir could not be reached for a comment yesterday as calls to his phone went to voicemail.
Garrido-Lowe said that an executive member of the party, based in Linden, was told that Nadir wanted her out of the party since she made comments and later called on him to be removed as a member of parliament.
She said Nadir “wants to run the party for his own interest. This is not a toy that you can try to regain the position just like that. He wanted to have the party operate under the interests of the ruling PPP/C. The party has its own interests, we have some good plans for the country.”
She added, “if the TUF goes under the wings of the PPP, it will not function as a party independently.”
Garrido-Lowe said she and her staff continued to occupy the party’s headquarters yesterday, despite an early morning showdown between her and executive member Ishmail Mohammed as well as other party executives.
At the party’s Unity House headquarters on New Garden Street yesterday, members of the executive and Garrido-Lowe clashed over padlocked gates leading to the building.
While Garrido-Lowe said that she found that new padlocks had been placed on the gates and the locks on doors to the building were changed when she arrived at the party headquarters yesterday, three executive members of the party counter-claimed that they arrived at the facility some time after 8 am yesterday and found new padlocks on the gate. One of the members resides at the back of the building and he told this newspaper that he left the building for work around 6 am yesterday and returned around 8 am.
He said when he arrived he saw a new padlock on the gate leading to the building and an employee of the party told him to use a second entrance. He said he confronted persons “affiliated with Garrido-Lowe” on the issue but it remained unresolved yesterday.
‘She [Garrido-Lowe] slammed the door in my face. She used bad words and opened the gate and office and there was a guy unlocking the office. She was sitting in a chair and was on the phone afterwards,” the man said.
The showdown between Garrido-Lowe and Muhammad stemmed from the former’s move to have Nadir vacate TUF’s seat in Parliament.
Garrido-Lowe issued a statement on Thursday saying that on August 31, TUF’s executive had met and removed Muhammad as a member of the executive and relieved him of his position as chairman of the party. A resolution passed by Garrido-Lowe’s backers said this action had been taken against Muhammad after he failed to turn up to a meeting on Wednesday to explain why he had sent a letter to the media supporting Nadir’s retention of the Parliament seat and used the names of members of the executive without their permission.
According to a statement on Thursday from Muhammad, former leader Nadir was once again appointed leader of the party and Garrido-Lowe was no longer leader or presidential candidate. The decision was made until an executive decision is made on the way forward, the statement noted.
It said the decision to expel Garrido-Lowe was made in accordance with Article 11: section 8 of the party’s constitution and accordingly, Garrido-Lowe is no longer authorized to conduct any business on behalf of TUF.
On Wednesday, Garrido-Lowe said she had sent out an email to the media stating, “I have learnt that Mr Manzoor Nadir is desirous of coming back into the fold as leader but I am not aware that there has been any duly convened party conference of electing a leader.”
Garrido-Lowe noted in a statement released by the party on Friday last that she was sticking by her call for her predecessor Nadir to vacate the party’s seat in the National Assembly.
“No service to the supporters of The United Force, then no seat in parliament,” said Garrido-Lowe in the statement.
Nadir is the Minister of Labour in the PPP/C administration.
In a letter, dated August 19, 2011 and released by TUF last Tuesday, Garrido-Lowe told Nadir that after careful consideration, TUF’s executive had come to a decision that Nadir should relinquish the seat the party holds in Parliament as it is not being utilised to its full potential.