(Trinidad Express) As the United National Congress (UNC) installed its newly elected national executive yesterday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar recognised the contributions of the party’s founder, Basdeo Panday.
Persad-Bissessar said Panday’s vision and commitment during the party’s early years of the UNC should not be forgotten. But she reminded supporters that errors were made and the party was able to grow and learn from them.
“He guided us through the formative years and under his leadership, led us into government 17 years ago. Today, new leadership has emerged, in a more enlightened age, one where the people demand more and leaders must rise to the many modern challenges in service to the people,” she said.
The installation of the UNC national executive—elected in the March 24 internal party elections—was held at Rienzi Complex, Couva.
“We have matured into a national party with a collective leadership that has created an enabling environment in which we listen to each other and most importantly to you.
“I remember your hurt and disillusionment when our party floundered in opposition splintering and fragmenting at times. I felt the sting of your disenchantment in those days. But today we recognise that it was part of the growing pains of becoming that truly national party which we have become today,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said the children of the UNC had raised their voices and called for change and transformation back in January 2010, when she was elected political leader. “It was in taking up that challenge that I called for an end of the ‘siege’, an end to the ‘betrayal of trust’ that people placed in us, and an end to ‘political tribalism’. I recognised that changing times demanded change first in our party, if we were ever to truly make a contribution to change in our country,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar called on her supporters to be vigilant and determined in defending their political party.
“As prime minister and as political leader of the United National Congress —I want to know that our people not only feel themselves to be part of the process of change, but also take an active part as important partners in shaping a sustainable future for our nation,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said as the People’s Partnership entered its third year in government, the fight against crime would be a major priority.
Speaking briefly to reporters after being sworn in as one of the party’s new deputy political leaders, San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray said: “I am happy to be here.”
Asked how she felt about her newest post, Coudray said: “Proud.”