Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is denying that he invited Jamaat Al Muslimeen PRO, Fuad Abu Bakr, to join the People’s National Movement (PNM).
In fact, Rowley said he could not recall the last time he spoke to Abu Bakr, who attempted to screen as a potential PNM candidate for the Port-of-Spain South Constituency last Thursday.
In a Facebook post, Rowley said:
“Just for the benefit of the readers, permit me to state that I can’t remember the last time I spoke to the gentleman and most certainly have never invited him into the PNM, far less through a back door which is zealously and heavily guarded by the articles of the party’s constitution.
It is good to see him showing an interest in joining the PNM and wanting to do national service, but in going about it in this bizarre way, he has caused me to instruct the Party’s General Secretary to thank him for the interest shown and enclose a copy of the PNM’s Constitution with the relevant sections on membership, the screening process and candidate selection duly highlighted for ease of reference.”
On Sunday, Abu Bakr told Guardian Media that he discussed representing the PNM in the upcoming general elections with Rowley, who appointed Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein to act as a liaison.
Abu Bakr said he recommended university lecturer David Muhammad for the Laventille West seat. However, when Abu Bakr showed up for the screening, the committee told him that he did not have the necessary paperwork to be screened. He has since resigned from the PNM and regained the leadership of his New National Vision party, which plans to contest 21 seats in the upcoming elections.
Fuad: He spoke to my father last Tuesday
In response to Rowley’s statement this morning, Abu Bakr said that with the many responsibilities of the Prime Minister, he did not believe those were his actual words. Speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew (TMB), Abu Bakr said it could have been someone writing on Rowley’s behalf.
“It is very amusing. I thank him for sending some documents from his party in terms of registration and membership. Thank you very much. I know that the process that he is speaking about now is not always followed, so that is very funny. I do not even take it as a condescending response because I don’t think he would be condescending to the youth of Trinidad and Tobago,” Abu Bakr said.
As a youth advocate, he said they want to be heard and participate in the governance process.
Asked whether he was told that he would get to contest the Port-of-Spain South constituency for the PNM, he asked TMB host Hema Ramkissoon whether she knew him as an insane or delusional person. He said his father was the actual person who spoke to Rowley in person and they were invited to get involved with the PNM.
“There have been representations and communications between myself and my father with the Prime Minister for a lengthy period of time, about three or four months. My father last met with the Prime Minister. I ensured that I took notes to say the exact time and the exact place. On last week Tuesday at his constituency office in Diego Martin West, Carenage to be specific, around 12 o’clock. He went to speak to the Prime Minister—at his request—to talk about upcoming elections and how we, because I represent the New National Vision which has the support of a lot of people, but part of that support is from Jamaat Al Muslimeen, the many men and women who live in this western area and spread across Trinidad and Tobago.”
He said the PNM wanted support from the East-West Corridor as they believe this will be a close election. He said those who know T&T’s political history knows that his father, Yasin Abu Bakr, head of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen, help former prime ministers Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday win elections.