for new directions
was not just PNM House Leader Colm Imbert who noticed that
Opposition leader Basdeo Panday and his chief whip Ramesh
Lawrence Maharaj were each on a different page concerning
the commission of enquiry into the construction sector and
Imbert noted the differing views from each in commenting
on the matter in yesterdays Guardian.
The great distance involved in Pandays recent absence
from T&T appears to have also seeped into his relating
to his chief whips perspective.
And on his return last Thursday, the UNC leader was noticeably
absent from Maharajs weekend march where Maharaj was
the star of the show along with COPs Inshan Ishmael.
The UNC confirmed that the march was Maharajs own
initiative rather than an executive plan.
And by last week, a banner had gone up near the Aranguez
Savannahthe UNCs birthplacepromoting an
anti-crime rally Ishmael will hold next weekend featuring
top UNC and COP officials.
Among themIshmael confirmed in yesterdays exclusive
Guardian reportMaharaj, UNC deputy Jack Warner, MP
Vasant Bharath, COP deputy leader Prakash Ramdhar, Anil
Roberts, Stephen Cadiz, environmentalist Peter Vine and
Therefore, it may have been unsurprising to UNC MPs that
the Ishmael issue figured prominently at Wednesdays
UNC caucus, the first Panday chaired since his return from
UNC sources claimed Panday was clearly deeply concerned.
They added that he told his team if MPs were going to allow
Ishmael to lead them and they were appearing on his platforms,
they would have to do so in their own capacity.
The UNC would have to distance itself from that, Panday
said, they added.
With Maharaj present, Panday warned against allowing anyone
to use the UNC base as he said Hulsie Bhaggan and Winston
Dookeran attempted to.
said nothing, Warner was overseas, sources added.
UNC MPs cold on Inshan/Ramesh link
Following UNCs caucus, Panday yesterday distanced
himself from Ishmaels rally and Ishmaels view
that it could foster UNC/COP unity.
Ishmael who said his recent march with Maharaj was a beginning,
said unity efforts might have a better chance under Maharajs
leadership since many in COP felt Panday was against unity.
Ishmael said neither Panday or COP leader Winston Dookeran
will be part of his rally next week.
COP officials later said Dookeran may be in Finland by then.
UNCs Suruj Rambachan who was at a meeting held Tuesday
by Maharaj and Ishmael, was asked about a possible UNC/COP
entity under Maharaj.
Rambachan instead replied: Ive always advocated
opposition forces should be united and a proper mechanism
be worked out for unity that will not lead to another NAR
situation. Ill work towards that.
Differing views in COP...
The appearance at Ishmaels upcoming rally of new COP
executive members Ramlogan and Ramadhar has given the new
teams stamp of approval to the UNC/COP platform.
COPs new executive boasts attorneys like Vernon de
Lima, Ramlogan and Ramadhar who Maharaj knows from the legal
Howeveras with the UNCs upper echelonssome
COP leadership officials seemed to be on a different page
where Ishmaels initiatives with Maharaj were concerned.
COP chairman Roy Augustus said Ishmaels appearance
at Maharajs march last weekend was Ishmaels
personal decision and not a sign of things to come regarding
a UNC/COP merger.
That view conflicted view with the hope expressed by Ishmael
for a merger and with deputy leader Ramadhars optimism.
Ramlogan said yesterday he held no personal animosity towards
Maharaj despite their fight for the Tabaquite seat last
was one of the few who always criticised Panday for the
way he treated Ramesh after he won the UNC deputy leadership
in 2000. Ramesh should have been allowed to act as Prime
Minister because that contest was cast in the context of
succession by Panday, Ramlogan said.
dont think the unity vehicle or its passengers are
a problem. The problem has always been the driverPanday
cant be in the drivers seat with Oma as conductor,
Ramlogan added: Panday is the single obstacle to political
unification and the political dislocation of the PNM. We
always had good relations with UNC members. During elections
we called for Kamla (Persad Bissessar) to be leader of a
UNC-COP entity. Prakash said on the platform hed spoken
it seems UNC frontliners have to hide from Panday to show
their affection for us.
On concerns COP leader Dookeran had about Maharaj, Ramlogan
said: Anyones concerns must be weighed against
concerns about PNM corruption,
COPs Gerald Yetming said: In Inshans anti-crime
rally, its appropriate for all political forces and
groups to come together. I support an accommodation for
Local Government, it can open the door for possibilities
four years down the line.
itd be premature to say who should be leader. The
people must decide. We should take it step by step.
Calder Hart in Florida
It was UNC Senator Wade Mark who at Tuesdays Senate
session, questioned the whereabouts of Udecott chairman
Calder Hart whom he felt had possibly skipped
Hart, a Udecott source said, is on pre-planned vacation
in Orlando, Florida (sic).
Governments move towards a commission of enquiry into
the construction industry and Udecott, saw the Manning administration
bowing to the wishes of the wider communityafter the
UNCs promised bombshell on the issue in
Parliament last week.
While Udecott would be scrutinised, the terms of reference
for the commission will give Government its opportunity
to examine the construction sector, after Ministers answered
allegations against Udecott by claiming a cartel
operates in the sector.
The PNM should not be surprised at accusations that this
cartel might have been cultivated under its
watch and that Governments complaints about late projects,
cost overruns, etc may be a product of what it has sown.
Prime Minister Patrick Mannings choice of commission
chairmanformer Integrity Commission chairman Gordon
Deaneseemed as clumsy as the way in which his plan
for the probe was announced.
Manning would have known how the choice would sit with the
chief proponent for an enquiryKeith Rowleyconsidering
Rowley had issues with the Integrity Commission under Deans
With Deanes decision to duck out, Manning is expected
to make an announcement on the commission by next week.
PNM sources said: It may be hard to find suitable
people in T&T. Some might be afraid to get involved
due to the powerful business interests involved, or they
may be connected to the issue somehow, they added.
A PNM constituency chairman had recently proposed calling
in the UKs Royal Institute of Chartered Quantity Surveyors
to deal with the Udecott issue, via independent investigator.
Government officials said yesterday: The Royal Chartered
Institute of Arbitrators can also help since they have experts
in construction law.
leadership fightfor now
With the commission of enquiry, Rowley may no longer have
reason to challenge Manning for the PNM leadership.
At this point.
While the PNM is still in Government.
Rowleys fight regarding Udecott will obviously
be conducted in the commission of enquiry, just as significant
a forumor probably morethan the PNM party where
results are concerned since said results could make or break
some participants of the probe.
Rowley has pledged to give up his Parliamentary seat if
an enquiry proves him wrong.
Where another big prize is concernedthe
PNM partyRowleys continued silence has been
telling regarding whether he would heed former colleague
Ken Valleys call to fight Manning for the leadership
at this months expected PNM convention.
Yesterday PNM PRO Jerry Narace said there was no word whether
the June 29 date would be changed.
Supporters of Rowley said the time towards the June convention
is too short to mount a campaign.
On Thursday, Valley said: I cannot be a campaign manager
if I have no candidate.
Sigler Jack of Rowleys constituency said the area
will show how firmly it stands behind its MP at its constituency
conference next Sundaywhere Rowley will speakand
whose theme will be morality.