United National Congress (UNC) political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has secured the support of six Opposition MPs requesting that President George Maxwell Richards appoint her Leader of the Opposition and remove the incumbent Basdeo Panday.
Persad-Bissessar said she was anticipating the support of another Opposition MP after Carnival in her bid to assume the position of Opposition Leader. There are 15 Opposition MPs in the Lower House and, therefore, Persad-Bissessar needs at least seven of them to support her in becoming Opposition Leader. Persad-Bissesar confirmed yesterday that a letter to the President calling on him to make her Opposition Leader was drafted and that the letter took her "seven steps closer to being the Opposition Leader." At a news-conference at the UNC Rienzi Complex in Couva yesterday afternoon, Persad-Bissessar showed the letter to members of the media. She used a sheet of white paper to conceal the rows of the signatures of the MPs giving her support to become Opposition Leader.
Persad-Bissessar declined to reveal the MPs that abandoned Panday in favour of supporting her for Opposition Leader. She said that she preferred to keep that information confidential. UNC deputy political leader Dr Roodal Moonilal, who was also present, dodged questions about defecting from Panday's faction and pledging his support to Persad-Bissessar. When asked whether he signed the letter, Moonilal made a plea for the privacy of the people who signed the letter to be respected. Persad-Bissessar had in the past secured the support of at least four Opposition MPs–Jack Warner, Winston Peters, Nizam Baksh and Harry Partap. At least seven Opposition MPs attended the caucus meeting. Among them included two MPs who were candidates on Panday's slate in the UNC internal elections–Chandresh Sharma and Roodal Moonilal. Attempts to contact Panday were futile.