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Khan to PNM MPs: Replace Opposition Leader

...Mc Donald says they’re happy
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Fuad Khan

Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan offered People’s National Movement MPs a “winning” prescription for the 2015 general election—replace Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. “We were able to change our leadership of the United National Congress (in 2009) and in doing so, it gave us the thrust and moved (us) into government,” Khan declared as he advised the Opposition MPs to consider doing the same. He was contributing to the debate on the motion to approve the Elections and Boundaries Commission 2015 report on Friday in Parliament. 

The EBC report, which seeks to make adjustments in the boundaries of ten constituencies: Couva North, Couva South, Diego Martin West, Diego Martin Central, Diego Martin North-East, Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West, Port-of-Spain South, San Fernando East, San Fernando West and Oropouche East, drew the ire of Opposition MPs. 

They were particularly upset over the changes being recommended for the San Fernando East constituency which could see three polling divisions—3860, 3872 and 3905—with a total of 1,907 voters being transferred from Oropouche East to the PNM-held constituency. Khan advised the MPs, in the absence of Dr Keith Rowley who did not attend the debate on Friday, that the change in leadership in the House would be a simple move.

“Since you have seven of you all who are disillusioned there, if you write the President and sign it, seven of you all can move the Opposition Leader. You could do that. If seven of you all get together and sign a document to the President you could move the Opposition Leader and you will be ok. After that, you will have nobody to worry about,” Khan contended. 

In fact, Khan took his suggestion further by recommending Diego Martin Central MP Dr Amery Browne as Rowley’s replacement. He reminded the PNM MPs that in 2009 the UNC replaced then leader Basdeo Panday with Kamla Persad-Bissessar after the party’s internal elections and coming out of that, the party gained the momentum to win the elections.

“I am just recommending since you are not a happy with the behaviour of your leader what you all could do is sign a petition to make Diego Martin Central as the next leader. You have 12 members all you need is seven and the President could do it. What I am suggesting that in the case of the next elections,” Khan quipped. This prompted Opposition Chief Whip Marlene McDonald to raise a point of order, citing Standing Order 48 (6) imputing improper motives. 

She emphatically declared, “We are very happy with our leader. It is world happy day and we are very happy with our leader. We are happy with the Opposition Leader.” Her declaration was greeted with loud desk thumping from her PNM colleagues. However Khan, who did not skip a beat, retorted, “I know she is happy with her leader because she is still there and she had been chosen. I have not heard anyone else get up and say that.” Debate on the EBC report resumes tomorrow.


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