Former government minister Jack Warner will know by Friday whether he is the chosen United National Congress (UNC) candidate to contest the July 29 Chaguanas West by-election.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, speaking at the UNC’s Monday night forum at Munroe Road Hindu School last night, announced that screening of candidates will take place today and by Friday the preferred choice will be named. Warner was present at the meeting last night.
Today, at 7.45 p.m., Warner is scheduled to face the party’s screening committee. Persad-Bissessar who heads the committee said she will not particpate in the screening process as she does not want to be accused of bias. She said party deputy political leaders Marlene Coudray and Dr Roodal Moonilal as well as party executive members Chandresh Sharma, Glenn Ramadarsingh and Don Sylvester will sit on the committee.
Over the past few weeks, Warner has been aggressively campaigning in Chaguanas West, with daily walkabouts and cottage meetings, hoping to reclaim the seat which he won in 2010 under a UNC ticket with a record 18,000-plus votes.
Meanwhile, the UNC has shifted its focus on Chaguanas West by holding its Monday night forums in the constituency.
Last Monday, the meeting was held at Cacandee ground and last night it was at Munroe Road.
Party sources have indicated that Warner was not a shoo-in for the candidacy and other options were being considered. Last night, Persad-Bissessar urged supporters to vote for party and ensure that the UNC retains 29 seats in the Parliament.
She assured that she will listen to the voice of the people and will ensure that the party’s rules and constitution are followed.
“As your leader I have had to make tough decisions while maintaining the compassion to listen to the concerns of others. I don’t lead with an iron fist, but I want to assure you that I will continue to listen to the voice of the people and to make decisions in the best interest of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Persad-Bissessar.
Warner had said the Prime Minister had lost touch with the people and needed to return to the ground to reconnect.
However, Persad-Bissessar rebutted this last night, saying that no one controls her and she was still close to her supporters.
“Despite what some may say, I have not lost touch with the people. Every opinion has value. I listen to all views and take them into consideration, but in the end I am always guided by what is best for the country and the people. And let me repeat what I have said before—no one controls me but you the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”