UNC leader faces challenge

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, former prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
Associated Press / Frank Franklin II

Former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad-Bissessar is facing a strong challenge to retain her post as leader of the United National Congress on Dec. 5 from one of her deputy political leader and a former UNC senator.

Former Housing Minister Dr Roodlal in the previous Kamla-led People’s Partnership (PP) administration said he is the longest serving member of the party’s executive and the time has come for change.

He said his job is to rebuild the party after the UNC was defeated in the Sept. 7, 2015 general election by the People’s National Movement.

Since then there have been calls from opposition UNC MPs for Persad-Bissesssar to step down after having suffered five successive election defeats under her leadership since 2010.

There are 16 posts up for grab in the internal election, but Persad-Bissessar is only contesting the post of leadership, while Dr Moonilal and the other contender Vasant Bharath each have a slate of candidates to contest the other positions.

Dr. Moonilal has resigned his post as chief whip in Parliament since is he going up against Persad-Bissessar who is the Opposition Leader.

The other candidate who has thrown his hat in the leadership race is former Trade and Industry Minister Vasant Bharath, who after he lost his seat in the last general election was made a senator by Persad-Bissessar.

He has since resigned his seat in the Senate to campaign for the election.

Bharath said the institutions in the party have broken down, some irretrievably so.

“If we have to present ourselves as a credible alternative for the people, we must rebuild. It’ll be a long painstaking process, but I’m up for the task,” he said.

Some of her opposition MPs say the former prime minister must take blame for the PP’s loss of the general election.

More from Around NYC