Glen Ram

The Opposition United National Congress on Tuesday screened several people for the Cumuto-Manzanilla seat, including former Rio Claro/Mayaro Regional Corporation chairman Glen Ram – who’s before the courts on alleged corruption charges – and former People’s Partnership minister Kevin Ramnarine.

This was confirmed by UNC officials yesterday. The party is also screening nominees for several other seats, including Toco-Sangre Grande, St Augustine and Lopinot-Bon Air West.

UNC officials said Cumuto-Manzailla nominees included Ram, Ramnarine, incumbent MP Christine Newallo-Hosein, former Cocoa/Coffee Industry board member Mitra Ramdial, Asha Beharry and Shivan Sam.

Ram yesterday declined comment when asked about Tuesday’s screening. But sources close to him told the T&T Guardian anyone can file a nomination.

In May 2019, the former chairman of the UNC-controlled corporation was arrested by Anti-Corruption Bureau officers and placed on two alleged corruption charges. He was charged with accepting a bribe and corruptly soliciting a $1,500 bribe in June 2018 and was granted $100,00 bail.

Since Ram didn’t immediately step down from the corporation chairmanship and no moves were made by UNC’s leadership to remove him, there were calls from within the UNC and the Government for him to step down. He subsequently didn’t offer himself as a candidate for the Biche/Charuma seat which he’d held when December 2019 Local Government elections arrived.

Ramnarine was the previous PP administration’s Energy minister. He was in the running for the seat in 2015 with then MP Collin Partap but either was chosen and Newallo-Hosein was. Ramnarine was low profile with UNC this term but carved out a niche as an energy expert. He did not answer calls to his phone yesterday.

Cumuto-Manzanilla’s executive was to meet last night to decide on nominees.

Toco-Sangre Grande nominees are reported to include several people who’d worked with former late MP Dr Rupert Griffith and a popular radio host.

UNC senator Kadijah Ameen is also tipped for St Augustine, sources said, while Anita Haynes is tipped to replace retiring MP Suruj Rambachan in Tabaquite. UNC’s expected to announce several more candidates tonight.

So far, the majority of MPs haven’t been screened save for Naparima’s Rodney Charles and Pointe-a-Pierre’s David Lee.

UNC activists expect changes in several safe seats. People being tipped include a former Industrial Court judge for Chaguanas West where MP Ganga Singh isn’t contesting. A former Petrotrin director who’s an attorney is tipped for Caroni-Central and a south businessman for Caroni East. A former Petrotrin employee who’s the relative of former Fyzabad MP Errol Macleod is tipped for Fyzabad, sources added.

UNC officials yesterday said they wouldn’t be surprised if a July or August poll is called.