By Gail Alexander
UNC leader Basdeo Panday went into the history books, again,
yesterday when he became the first Opposition Leader to
have his instruments of appointment conferred on him directly
by the President.
And Panday assumed the mantle of Opposition Leader, vowing
that he intended to die with his political boots on Fighting
for the welfare people of the T&T.
At yesterdays ceremony at Presidents House,
President George Maxwell Richards said convention had been
that the instruments of appointment for the Opposition Leader
were sent to Opposition Leaders office.
However, Richards said he had thought it might be a welcome
break in traditionafter talks with Pandayto
present the instruments of appointment directly to Panday.
Richards said yesterdays function was not a swearing-in
He said Panday would take the oath of office on the first
day of Parliament.
Government sources hinted on Tuesday that the ceremonial
opening of Parliament might be on November 28 or 30.
This is the fifth time Panday will hold the post of Opposition
Leader in his 40-year political career.
According to the Opposition office yesterday, he held the
post while with the ULF, while he was at the helm of the
newly-formed UNC, also from 1991-1995 and then from 2002
In the latter year, Panday was replaced as Opposition Leader
by UNC MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar when he was convicted on
an integrity charge. That ruling was subsequently quashed.
After the ceremony, Panday said he had no objection to going
to Presidents House for the occasion.
He said he was confused as to why Manning had refused to
go to that location to be sworn in.
Panday also said the Oppositions priorities involved
fiasco that has been taking place in T&T for a long
time indicates the need for constitutional reform,
are also the other problems confronting T&T, such as
crime, high food prices and infrastructure and traffic gridlock.
then the country should expect that since a country gets
the government it deserves.
in this case, it may that they get the government they want
since nobody deserves some of the problems here.
Panday said the UNC would do its constitutional duty to
do the best to its ability in the situation where the PNM
had the majority.
He declined to say who would be named UNC Chief Whip or
to confirm speculation that Maharaj would be.
He also remained mum on his choice of senators.
He said he didnt want to dash anyones hopes
or get anyone elses up.
All from COP
On whether the COP would split the UNCs vote in next
years local government elections, Panday said: My
feeling is that people would not make that mistake for a
Asked whether he would take COP leader Winston Dookeran
back into the party, Panday said: Take him back? What
you think? We were married and we were divorced or something?
simply called upon people to unite, he said.
necessary and the election results indicate that.
indicates the PNM is a minority government and had there
been unity, the PNM today would have been in the Opposition.
will work with COP supporters to bring them back home...But
people from their leadership, no.
wants to come back home, were prepared to sit down
and talk in the national interest.
On his impending return to the Parliament where he
was blocked from entering only a few months agoPanday
just hope Mr Manning wont think of something before
the meeting of Parliament to have me blocked again.
When asked if he wanted to retire undefeated at some pointas
Prime Minister Patrick Manning had said recently he wanted
Panday said: I will die with my boots on fighting
for the welfare of the people of T&T, a task I have
done for 40 years.
Members of the UNC at Presidents House yesterday included
MPs Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and Mrs Lynette Maharaj, Kamla
Persad-Bissessar, Dr Tim Gopeesingh and Mrs Kamini Gopeesingh,
Nizam Baksh, Vasant Bharath, Jack Warner, Subash Panday,
Mickela Panday, Hamza Rafeeq, Chandresh Sharma, Harry Partap,
Roodal Moonilal and Winston Peters.
Also present were prospective UNC senators, Wade Mark, Adesh
Nanan, Jennifer Jones Kernahan, and UNC executive members
Suruj Rambachan, Sylvester Ramquar, Daphne Phillips and