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Penny looking for slate of candidates without ‘baggage’

By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, February 16 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Former Arima Mayor Elvin Edwards....
Former Arima Mayor Elvin Edwards....

People’s National Movement (PNM) leadership candidate Pennelope Beckles-Robinson is expected to announce her slate of candidates for the party’s internal election within the next two weeks.

Sources said yesterday that Beckles-Robinson was already talking to several persons with a view to selecting a slate for the eagerly-anticipated May 18 poll.

“The slate will be made up of people who are experienced but there will also be some newcomers,” one source said.

The source said there was a strong likelihood that the line-up will include former ministers, past executive members and other professionals.

“The line-up will show inclusiveness and will reflect creed and race. But we are looking at people without baggage and people who will steer the PNM in a certain direction,” the source added.

PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley has already announced several members of his slate. They include incumbents Franklin Khan (Chairman), Faris Al Rawi (Public Relations Officer), Camille Robinson-Regis (Vice-Chairman) and Ashton Ford (General Secretary).

Members of Beckles-Robinson’s camp held a series of meetings yesterday, trying to garner support for the campaign.

“We want to ensure that the elections are free and fair. If it’s free we know we are going to be victorious,” the source said.

This week, a meeting of the group “To Preserve The Balisier” is being planned for Thursday in Sangre Grande.

Meanwhile, former Arima Mayor Elvin Edwards has thrown his support behind Rowley for the leadership.

In a telephone interview on Friday, Edwards said Rowley has done an “extremely good job” in moving the PNM forward.

Noting that Rowley had led the party to three major election victories, last year, Edwards said: “Dr Rowley has raised the platform in the Local Government election. It was achieved without bacchanal and there were a number of young, bright people as candidates.”

Edwards, who served two terms as Arima Mayor, from 1996 to 2003, said Beckles-Robinson, during her term as MP, did nothing to elevate the borough.

He told Sunday Newsday: “It is my personal view that Penny Beckles did nothing to help the cause of Arima. She was the co-ordinator for the constituency in the Local Government election but she did not contribute in any substantial way in the PNM retaining control of the Arima Borough Council. I worked there so I can say that.”

Edwards also said Beckles-Robinson, who was removed by Rowley as Opposition Chief Whip in the Senate, had done nothing to “move the party forward” in the Upper House.

“What is her track record as leader as leader of the Women’s League?” he asked. “I have not seen that.”

Edwards said while the country was a democracy, “I am yet to understand her thinking at this time (in seeking to contest the leadership). I don’t see any sense in it at this point.”

Saying that Rowley is “analytical and straight to the point,” Edwards said: “I have never known him to be disrespectful or dismissive to anyone.”

Edwards said the Opposition Leader was also persistent about issues he felt passionately about.

“Look at the e-mailgate issue. He is not giving up on that but ensuring that the matter must be investigated properly,” he said.

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