Thursday 5th June 2003

 
PNM eyes four seats in Central
 
 
 
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Oropouche MP Dr Roodal Moonilal is shown a watercourse by officials of the Ministry of Works, Drainage Division and the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation during a tour of flood prone areas in his constituency yesterday.

Photo: Sookdeo Baney

By Gail Alexander

The ruling PNM is targeting four seats in central Trinidad to break the UNC stronghold for the July 14 local government elections, PNM’s Central co-ordinator Satish Ramroop has declared.

But the UNC is promising a tough fight for the PNM.

The NAR, too, plans to contest some seats in the 14 corporation districts, possibly linking with another party.

However, Team Unity and Citizens Alliance are out of the race.

Plans by the various parties began heating up this week after Prime Minister Patrick Manning announced July 14 as the local government elections date. He did so in an historic address to the Senate on Tuesday.

Some 126 seats in 14 corporation districts are up for grabs.

The EBC recently added two seats in the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo area and in the Tunapuna/Piarco district. The last local government polls were held in 1999.

The PNM currently holds seven corporations in the East West Corridor and South, while the Opposition controls seven others in South and Central.

Ramroop, a senator and former Caroni general election candidate, yesterday said his party is aiming to take UNC strongholds in Edinburgh, Longdenville, Enterprise south and Montrose.

“These areas in the central corporation district are my special mission. We lost in those seats by margins of 120- 200 votes in the last poll and figures show that we have increased margins in those places in the 2002 general election,” he said.

Ramroop spearheads PNM’s new central regional office, set up three weeks ago in Chaguanas, the party’s first in this constituency.

He has also been leading walkabouts with candidates which began two weeks ago and participated in functions in central Trinidad which Prime Minister Patrick Manning attended over the Indian Arrival Day weekend.

The PNM is hoping for a low voter turnout which will be in the party’s favour.

Although screening is complete, Ramroop said the party still has to tie up “loose ends” and appoint candidates in a few areas in central Trinidad, northern Port-of-Spain and Belmont West.

The PNM’s central executive which met last night was due to finalise this.

Northern Port-of-Spain incumbent Alvin Narine yesterday expressed concern at the length of time it is taking to finalise the situation.

He said the executive of his area has written the PNM’s screening team confirming their support for him. Narine is said to be out of favour with the party’s hierarchy.

In Belmont West where incumbent Murchison Brown has stepped down, nominee Mickey Greaves (formerly Belmont East councillor) is also to be confirmed. Sources said the executive is split over his nomination.

On the Opposition front, the UNC’s election co-ordinator Chandresh Sharma (Fyzabad MP) dismissed the PNM’s view that it will sweep UNC seats.

“Yes, they’ll capture a few seats with the big money they’ve been spending in various areas, but the larger community won’t vote for them,” said Sharma.

He objected to the PNM’s wooing of UNC supporters, and claimed the PNM’s California/Point Lisas candidate Rhonda Bartholomew-John had been the secretary to Chaguanas Mayor Orlando Nagessar, “until she was promised a job at the port and recruited by the PNM”.

“We have a few surprises of our own,” he hinted, however.

He added the party plans to increase the schedule of weekly Monday night meetings.

On reports that some of the smaller parties such as the NAR have been seeking to hitch up with the UNC for the campaign, Sharma said: “We speak to a lot of people but we’re not exploring that kind of thing now.”

NAR leader Lennox Sankersingh said: “We’ll be contesting in all areas, but not all of the 128 seats. But there’s a distinct possibility we’ll be contesting with another party.”

TU foundation member Trevor Sudama said the party has no plan to contest.

“We’re addressing the concern of various groups through legal channels and also mobilising. After the election, the results will give us an indication how to proceed further.”

The phone number for CA’s head office and cellphone numbers for executive members were out of service.

Former CA deputy leader Binda Maharaj said yesterday he’d resigned from the party in January and was observing politics now.

©2003-2004 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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