Former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, held onto the reigns of leadership of the United National Congress (UNC), following internal elections held on Saturday.
According to preliminary results released late Saturday, Persad- Bissessar triumphed over her rivals Dr Roodal Moonilal and Vasant Bharath.
Counts from 13 constituencies showed Persad-Bissessar had garnered 1,250 votes, Moonilal 160 and Bharath 84.
However, her opponents have called for fresh elections based on what they say are complaints and irregularities surrounding the voting.
For his part, Moonilal questioned the integrity of the membership list, described it as “dysfunctional” and wants another vote.
“I believe the party should return to the poll with a proper list that is approved by an independent election committee. Even if I had won my stance would have been the same,” Moonilal said in his concession speech.
He claimed the membership list had been tampered with, alleging a revised list was distributed at midday at polling stations, and said ballot boxes were being opened before the close of voting at 6 pm in Chaguanas.
“In my constituency more than 2,000 members were denied a chance to vote, even die-hard members were denied a chance to vote.
Moonilal’s team also pointed to other issues such as vanishing ink identifying people who would have already voted but which was disappearing from fingers of voters following two or three washings; names of would-be voters appearing two or three times on the election lists; people who were part of campaigns being named as presiding officers and persons going to a particular area to vote only to be redirected several miles away to new locations to vote.
Moonilal, who described the election process as a “scandal of the highest order” also claimed that the voters’ list was “trashed, cut and pasted.”
“I really want to have a leadership of the party that reflects the membership, and if it is that more people are denied voting then that calls into question the legitimacy, integrity and moral position of the party as it relates to leadership,” Moonilal said.
Bharath, the other opponent, also voiced concern about the voters’ list. Saying that it was not readily available to members.
“In response to Moonilal, Persad- Bissessar said the issues must be taken up with the Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC) .
“But I believe it is a resounding whipping and therefore if it was very close you could say there were issues but it’s a very clear victory I think. He can take up his issues with the election committee,” she said in referring to Moonilal.
Persad-Bissessar told her supporters that although the results are preliminary “I think we will go forward to a clear victory.” “At the end of the day the victory is for the UNC and to them I say thank you, ” added that they are one UNC party and asked all opposing teams to work together to “fight the real enemy which is the PNM (People’s National Movement)”.