(Trinidad Express) Former Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West Jack Warner would face expulsion from the United National Congress (UNC) if he contests the by-election as an independent candidate.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said the party’s constitution does have certain sanctions and provisions that prevent a member from contesting a seat as an independent candidate.
“The constitution of the party provides for what will happen if a person should go up on any other ticket except that of the party. I think the constitution provides that such a person would be expelled,” Persad-Bissessar said.
The Prime Minister made the statement in response to questions from the media after a visit with Secondary entrance Assessment (SEA) pupils at Tranquility Government Primary School, Stanmore Avenue, Port of Spain.
The UNC constitution states, inter alia, that “if a member of the party shall, in opposition to any party candidate, or nominee or otherwise in defiance of or contrary to any party directive or declared policy, publicly announce his intention to participate in or contest, or be a candidate or nominee for election to a seat in Parliament, or any public forum or municipal corporation, accept nomination or appointment to any such public forum or municipal corporation, shall thereupon cease to be a member of the party”.
Persad-Bissessar also responded to Warner comment that the by-election should take place before the month of Ramadan, which ends on August 9.
“I did not trigger this process. This process was triggered by the resignation of a member of parliament, and given the constitution time frame, it has been triggered in the month of Ramadan.
“I cannot go outside the constitution to hold it after. I have to work with the hand that has been dealt to me, which is to say that I have to count to 90 days (from the date of the declaration of the vacancy), which takes us to August 10, and I am being advised that Eid may be 9th or 10th August.
“So I cannot change that process, which was triggered not by my doing. I will have to follow the Constitution,” she said, adding that elections have taken place during the Muslim holy month before.
Despite the public fallout between Warner and Local Government, works and Infrastructure Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan, Persad-Bissessar said their relationship was not as bad as reported in the media.
“When there’s an election, people get more excited, but been there, done that as they would say. All will be well. The party remains, as I said on Monday night, solid as a rock, will continue to work together and in any mass of humanity, any gathering of persons, you will have different views from time to time, but the democracy will prevail in the end,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said she has not lost touch with the citizenry as suggested by Warner. while admitting her schedule is busy, Persad-Bissessar said she and the rest of the MPs try “as much as we can…to stay connected”.
“It is one of the reasons we have gone back into the Monday night meeting because members have been asking us to come back to them; I try as one human being to keep in touch and keep connected as much as I can. There’s always room for improvement,” she said.
with the local government election constitutionally due and now superseded by this by-election, the issue of the UNC’s internal leadership election seemed to be on the back burner. Persad-Bissessar said while the leadership election was due on January, it was postponed by the party’s national executive because of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.
“What happened in January is that we had another election, as you know, in Tobago, and we had other things happening so the party took a decision to defer those elections until after local government elections,” she said.
There has been speculation that both elections would either be held on the same day or just days apart, but Persad-Bissessar said she could not yet confirm either a date for the elections or a candidate for the Chaguanas west seat.
“No candidate has been decided, again, I repeat, the party is open for nominations; after the nominations, the process will be the screening process that will take place and then a candidate will be decided. no candidate has been approached. I have not spoken to any person to be or not to be a candidate,” she said.
“There are persons who have expressed interest; I have received a few text messages, e-mails, but it is for the party process at party headquarters,” she added.
Warner, in a brief telephone interview yesterday, said he had no fight with the Prime Minister but was not concerned about the possibility of expulsion.
“As a member of the UNC, I will go for screening; if I am not successful, I will keep my options open,” Warner said.