Special voting in the United National Congress’ internal election concluded yesterday and approximately 120,000 members will be voting on Sunday.
The figures were confirmed yesterday by the party’s election management team. It said only 12 people were registered as special voters.
Meanwhile, UNC election team chairman Ramesh Persad-Maharaj yesterday put another “buffing” on leadership challenger Vasant Bharath, following a letter Bharath sent to the team challenging issues on polling agents and threatening a lawsuit on the issue.
However, Persad-Maharaj stated, “In that letter, you’ve taken issue with the recent notice regarding polling agents and the requirement for them to be UNC members. You also insisted that the committee has no power to vary the elections rules and that the notice, in any event, was not signed by all the members of the committee.”
Persad-Maharaj said his team’s terms of reference empower them to make rules for conduct of the elections and do all such other things necessary to ensure the integrity, fairness and confidence of the membership in the elections. He said the notice concerning the appointment of polling agents didn’t involve variations to the rules and all election day personnel appointed by the committee must be party members, as candidates are.
“The elections are a closed affair and for obvious reasons are not open to non-members who may be members of another political party or who may not have the UNC’s best interest at heart. This is an unwritten law observed by all political parties,” he said.
Persad-Maharaj also accused Bharath of making other “outrageous and utterly absurd statements.”
“You have threatened me with an ill-advised lawsuit in my personal capacity. How brave can you be? I invite you to get an attorney-at-law to issue a proper pre-action letter in accordance with the practice direction issued by the Honourable Chief Justice on pre-action protocols,” he said.
“No threat issued by you will intimidate or deter the members of the committee or me from carrying out our mandate to conduct these elections with fairness, integrity and in the best interests of members.”
Meanwhile, Devant Maharaj, expressing concern for elderly voters, said police were forced to “intervene” and stop a Barrackpore meeting on Wednesday by the Persad- Bissesssar slate because of non-adherence to COVID protocols. He said photos showed people hadn’t been employing social distancing methods.
UNC MP Barry Padarath had denied the meeting was shut down. He said police on patrol had reminded organisers they must ensure compliance with COVID protocols.