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Online petition seeks PNM change of heart: Facebook love for Browne

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Supporters of Dr Amery Browne have taken to social media to express their displeasure with the People’s National Movement screening committee’s rejection of the incumbent Diego Martin Central MP. An online petition, as well as criticism of the PNM executive, coloured Browne’s Facebook page yesterday, as news spread that he had been rejected by the party.

On Thursday night, Browne, together with incumbent MPs Alicia Hospedales and Fitzgerald Jeffrey, was rejected by the screening committee at Balisier House. Yesterday, however, PNM secretary Ashton Ford clarified media reports which suggested that Browne was rejected by the screening committee. He said, rather, it was the 18 members of the Diego Martin Central constituency executive who had not supported Browne’s return. 

The incumbent MP received not a single vote from the executive, whereas the next best candidate, Darryl Smith, mustered only two votes; hence the screening committee’s decision to give the constituency executive extra time to seek more options. Browne, who posted a statement on his Facebook page following his rejection, thanked supporters for their love and support.

He said, “My life has been one of service to the less-fortunate since long before I entered politics, and my commitment and sense of duty to my constituents and to the people of T&T remain as strong and binding today as ever before.” But one supporter started an online campaign on Browne’s Facebook page to have the PNM return him as the MP of choice for the forthcoming general election and urged others to sign it.

Another likened Browne to Jesus Christ, saying he had been “crucified on Good Friday.” “What a privilege God has given to you, to be crucified by your own party on this Holy day. This means that God has a Resurrection in store for you. “I knew there was a reason that you are so loved. You have God's favour upon you. I look forward to see what God has in store for you and for all of us who love you,” she posted.

Even former People’s Partnership St Joseph MP Herbert Volney took to Browne’s Facebook page to comment on his rejection. “Stand up and fight. Never surrender,” Volney posted. Another supporter questioned if Browne’s supporters were “going to sit back and accept this?” “Are people going to be ‘PNM till they die’ when we see such injustice? “Mr Amery Browne has been a hardworking, caring and Honourable MP. So we the constituents have no say to retain such an individual that has gone over and beyond?” she asked in her post.

Another posted, “First Donna Cox and Hypolite, Now Amery Browne, looks like someone is getting rid of all who may have secretly opposed them.” Many also offered prayers and words of comfort to Browne. Calls to Browne’s cellphone, as well as text messages, went unanswered yesterday, as the Sunday Guardian tried to find out his feelings about the overwhelming support and disappointment expressed by his supporters. However, he has indicated his intention to face the screening committee again.

Ford responds

Contacted yesterday, Ford said he was unaware of the outpouring of support for Browne. “I haven't seen the messages or the petition,” Ford said. However, Ford said it was not unusual for the incumbent to have a lot of support even after a rejection at the screening phase. “This is not the first time something like this has happened, it is normal for someone who has served for any length of time to have people who support him and of course the incumbent has every right to that support,” he said.

Despite the rejection of several of the more popular names on the PNM list, Ford said the party would not be swayed from the processes. “The party has a process to follow and it has to do what is best for the constituency and the nation as a whole,” he said.



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