Not so, Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Keith Rowley is getting flack from some PNMites for referring to certain members as “imps” at last Sunday’s PNM Family Day function—and for making reference to mosques in his speech.
Rowley at PNM’s Family Day, in Chaguanas, reportedly attacked—among others—someone whom he referred to as a particular “imps who spent the last four years before elections going to every mosque in T&T” saying Rowley was against Muslims. He said that person now wanted to contest party office.
He also waded into other members about making statements about him, adding he had to protect PNM from “imps” entering the party’s executive to run it.
Rowley spoke after last Sunday’s exclusive Guardian Media story on the postponement of the party election—from September 16 to September 30—and that several former frontline PNM members and ministers intend challenging the incumbent team managing PNM.
Rowley said he is defending the leadership of the party and has a full slate.
However, one challenger Dane Wilson asked, “Exactly who was Dr Rowley referring to as ‘imps’? This is a disturbing trend—his fixation on issues relating to the Muslim community. Instead of bringing religion or race into the election, he should instead account for his current executive’s stewardship and explain whether disciplinary processes like (suspended member) Harry Ragoonanan’s have been completed or why PNM has not had an education officer for months.”
Wilson, who is challenging PNM’s Ronald Huggins for social media officer, said he supports Rowley as the leader.
“And my leader’s right—there are ‘imps’ in the party: on the current executive and Cabinet. I fully support him having his slate and I’m extremely grateful he introduced the one-man/one-vote system for our elections as PNM’s membership is much smarter and educated and will vote their mind,” Wilson said.
Former minister in finance Mariano Browne who intends contesting a senior post also queried Rowley’s “imps” remark. Browne who was among prospective challengers who were warmly received at the Family Day shook hands with Rowley at the function.
“The PNM’s a democratic institution so I expect basic respect for common things will hold. But why is the leader so afraid of competition and diplomacy in the internal elections that he has to put up a slate and deem as ‘imps’, fellow members who may be against his slate?” Browne asked.
“However, I would understand why Dr Rowley would feel people are stabbing him in the back. That’s probably how (former leader) Patrick Manning would have felt when there was talk during the 2010 PNM general election campaign of ‘time for court-martial later on’”.
Indications, so far, suggest that several of the 15-plus incumbents are expected to defend their posts including senior officers like chairman Franklin Khan, vice chairman Camille Robinson-Regis, labour relations officer Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, PNM sources hinted.
They noted Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte’s name has been called concerning treasurer—held by Dr Lester Henry—and other frontline posts.
Incumbent assistant general secretary Daniel Dookie is tipped to contest the general secretary’s post, in which he has been acting since after Ashton Ford’s tenure, they added. Other incumbents expected to contest include youth officer Chinua Alleyne and operations officer Irene Hinds.
A July 25, internal memo from acting secretary Dookie confirmed the poll was being shifted from September 16 to September 30 due to the September 16, CPL tournament final.
Prospective nominees have been told the initial nomination submission process has, therefore, been shifted from this week to September 3- 7. Yesterday, Balisier House officials said forms are available from now.