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Montano: Don’t vote PNM under Rowley

By SEAN DOUGLAS Tuesday, April 29 2014

click on pic to zoom in
FORMER Senate president Danny Montano....
FORMER Senate president Danny Montano....

FORMER Senate president Danny Montano yesterday cast doubt on the ability of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley to lead the country based on the woes faced by “Team Penny” ahead of the May 18 internal elections of the People’s National Movement (PNM) which Montano alleged is being unfairly influenced by Rowley loyalists. “Are you going to put in to manage a party and a country, people who can’t manage an internal election properly?” he told Newsday.

Yet in reply general secretary Ashton Ford of the Rowley-slate accused Montano of breaching the party’s Code of Conduct by his utterances.

Montano, nominee for PNM chairman, yesterday blamed the Rowley-led PNM National Executive for Team Penny’s problems to register their supporters as party members and to get the PNM membership list in a timely manner.

Alleging that the Elections Committee is influenced by the Rowley-led National Executive, Montano urged the population to see how badly fellow PNM members of “Team Penny” were being treated. On the basis of this, Montano said that if the Rowley faction were ever to get into government, how would they treat their opponents such as UNC supporters?

Montano said Team Penny had been getting a “6 for a 9” from Balisier House in trying to register new members. “Forms were never available,” he alleged. You couldn’t get say 50 forms to do a membership drive in a certain area, and sometimes not even get one form, he alleged. He complained that xeroxed copies of forms were not being accepted. Montano bemoaned that after Team Penny had endured a six-week wait since last February to get the PNM membership list, they were told in mid-April that 7,000 names were being rejected. “We still can’t get a membership list,” he stormed. “We should have had it last week.”

Montano said while deprived of the list to work with, precious days are passing.

“This is either gross incompetence or an improper intent here,” he said of the prolonged delay. “Don’t tell me the executive doesn’t know what’s going on,” he said. “The responsibility for it must fall on the leadership. Now you tell me, are you going to put in to manage a party and a country, people who can’t manage an internal election properly? If there is an improper motive here, what the hell are they going to do in a national election?” He said if the current confusion is due to stupidity or bad motives, he cannot see how anyone can support the Rowley-slate. “The country has to pay attention to what they are doing here. We are part of the PNM and shouldn’t be treated this way. The PNM shouldn’t treat the UNC this way, or the ILP or anybody else much less its own members or persons who legitimately seek membership in the PNM.”

Montano said the Election Committee members whom Team Penny had met had said the PNM National Executive should resign. “They (Election Committee) had made that point but were ignored.”

“So here you have a sitting Executive, part of the election, candidates themselves, doing God knows what inside there. How is there fairness in the process? Anybody who feels they should support that is doing the country a huge disservice.”

Montano said Team Penny was promised the list last Friday by 10 am and the registration period would be extended but he had only learnt from the newspapers that the new deadline was to be yesterday (Monday). Montano said Team Penny should have been given the names of the 7,000 applicants in doubt. Must Team Penny have to try to figure out who they were and to bring them to Balisier House for registration, he asked aloud? He said he had been assured the 7,000 persons would be put on the membership list, but he does not yet have it. Montano said he needs an electronic copy of the list, as a paper-based list is not manipulable and is too bulky with 79,000 names. “It’s sheer wickedness not to give us an electronic copy,” he stormed.

Montano alleged that a member of the Elections Committee who met Team Penny last Thursday is an active campaigner for Rowley.

Ford in response told Newsday, “Mr Montano and his team continue to violate the regulations governing the internal elections of the party.” He said they can complain to the Elections Committee under the election regulations and code of conduct. “No amount of crocodile tears or false alarms will bring about sympathy votes for them.”

Pressed on an alleged unavailability of registration forms, Ford said the Elections Committee is in charge, and that Montano must acquaint himself with the regulations governing the election. Unlike Montano’s claim that the Elections Committee was named by the Political Leader (Rowley), Ford said it was named by the PNM General Council. “Mr Montano is breaching the code of conduct by using innuendos to attack the personalities of candidates. That is in breach of the Code of Conduct. Asked if the Election Committee’s Randall Mitchell is a known Rowley activist, Ford said Montano’s remark was in breach of the Code of Conduct. “People are free in the party. It’s a one-man, one-vote election. When people work with the EBC (Elections and Boundaries Commission, do you know how they vote in the election? They are on a wild goose chase and they are making excuses and breaching the Code of Conduct and the regulations governing the election.” Regarding claims of having no membership-list, Ford said each constituency executive sends its list to Balisier House to be compiled into a final list to be approved by the General Council on Thursday.

Of claims that the Rowley-slate’s conduct does not bode well in the eyes of the general public for a future Rowley administration, Ford replied, “If he wants to join the UNC he needs no excuse. He’s not the first Montano to do so.”

In a statement last Saturday Ford denied claims by Team Penny’s Dr Bose Sharma of Ford usurping the authority of the Elections Committee (Newsday, “Cordial PNM talks”, April 26). “I wish to categorically state that I never issued any press release or made any pronouncements on behalf of the Election Supervisory Committee,” said Ford’s statement.

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