Devant Maharaj, political activist and former UNC Senator.
SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

Political activist and former United National Congress (UNC) Senator, Devant Maharaj, has thrown his hat into the ring for the party’s upcoming internal election.

In a letter to UNC chairman, Peter Kanhai, Maharaj expressed his interest in contesting the party’s internal elections, which he says are now constitutionally due.

He said the last internal election the party held was in 2017, meaning that elections to appoint a political leader and a National Executive are now both due.

But Maharaj, who has led a campaign against the current Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP, since the party’s defeat at the August 10th national election, says he has multiple concerns about the election.

The political activist noted the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic would require special provisions be put in place before an election is called, as he said the campaigning for the General Election caused a spike in community spread of the virus.

“Indeed, one would hate to think that an obsession with remaining in power might lead to a hastily called election without ensuring proper arrangements are in place to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Maharaj said.  “This is especially important given the context of the Public Health Regulations, which may limit the number of persons in polling stations to the detriment of the electoral process.

He added: “I also respectfully suggest that consultations be held with the Ministry of Health and the Commissioner of Police to ensure compliance with the prevailing health regulations that may be in force at that time.”

Maharaj said given the UNC’s criticisms of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) following the August 10th polls, he believes the party should have independent observers for its internal election.

He has asked party chairman Peter Kanhai to provide information on the proposed dates for the election, deadlines for nomination, a membership list for those contesting the election, the formation of an elections committee and a list of measures that will be taken to mitigate against conflicts of interest from members of the National Executive who also hold positions as Members of Parliament.

Maharaj has asked Kanhai to respond within seven days.