Winston “Gypsy” Peters

Expect the return of Winston “Gypsy” Peters in upcoming general elections. This after the People’s National Movement’s Moruga/Tableland executive approved Peters as its candidate yesterday and is now recommending him to the party executive to replace incumbent MP Lovell Francis.

Peters was already meeting people in Marac yesterday where PNM officials said he received pledges of support.

And yesterday in La Brea – where former minister Robert le Hunte and incumbent Nicole Ollivierre are seeking nomination – party groups were voting for a nominee of choice in numbers over 80 per cent.

The ruling PNM also accelerated its nomination process yesterday, seeking nominations for 16 outstanding seats by Friday instead of the initial deadline of next Monday.

Deadline for the party’s first 25 constituencies was last Friday. Party units were initially told the deadline for the next 16 was May 25. But yesterday PNM executive officials said the May 25 date was changed to May 22 due to next Monday’s Eid holiday. Party units were contacted by yesterday to submit names by Friday. The situation caused executives to speed up finalisation of their nominees. This includes Moruga.

After Moruga incumbent Francis and four other nominees were interviewed by the PNM’s screening team last Saturday, the constituency executive was sent back to seek more nominees.

Yesterday, PNM Moruga officials said the executive had screened and approved Peters, whose nomination was submitted to them. He was the sole nominee. Their recommendation for him to be the candidate is being sent to Balisier House today. The executive hopes he can secure victory after the PNM won the seat by 533 votes in 2015. They’ve said support slid under outgoing MP Francis.

Moruga officials said Peters, from Mayaro, has family in Moruga, once part of Mayaro constituency. Peters is the United National Congress’ former Mayaro MP. He was replaced in the 2015 poll by Rushton Paray and was appointed as National Carnival Commission chairman by the Rowley administration in 2018. Last year, he indicated he indicated he was open to considering candidacy.

Yesterday, Peters said he couldn’t answer queries on whether he was contesting Moruga for the PNM immediately. But he said he could be expected to be seen with a party for elections.

“I’m not saying. You know the Jimmy Cliff song… ‘Time Will Tell,’” he added, breaking into song.

Meanwhile, ex-minister Le Hunte, who resigned last week from Government, was in La Brea as seven out of the 19 party groups began voting yesterday.

“I’m hopeful,” he said

La Brea chairman Wayne Wood said Le Hunte and Ollivierre’s nominations were all that were received to date. He said there were “solid numbers” from party groups yesterday.

“At our deadline (tomorrow) we’ll know their aspiration,” Wood said.

Apart from Moruga’s Francis, the fate of Point Fortin MP Edmund Dillon also looks grim. Dillon and a young woman with a journalism background were screened last Saturday. But Point’s executive was sent back to “broaden the search,” they said they were told. They return to screening next week but were still awaiting names yesterday.

One PNM candidate who was approved yesterday was businessman Ronnie Lochan, who will be the Cumuto-Manzanilla candidate. Cumuto PNM executive officials confirmed receiving word yesterday from the PNM’s general secretary that Lochan was approved.

Lochan was one of four nominees in that seat and the executive’s front-runner. Lochan, who lives in Cumuto-Manzanilla, is the son of Barry Lochan, who was PNM’s Cumuto-Manzanilla candidate in 2015 but lost to UNC’s Christine Newallo-Hosein.

Meanwhile, Port-of-Spain South’s still deciding if incumbent Marlene McDonald might contest or whether unit chairman Wendell Stephens would. A PNMite since 1999, Stephens is a PoS corporation alderman, a general council and central executive member and has support from the unit.

Diego Martin Central didn’t have any names in hand up to yesterday – including MP Darryl Smith’s. PNM sources said Diego Martin corporation head Simon de Nobrega’s name was heard in connection with the seat. He didn’t answer calls. There’s also speculation about Communication Minister Donna Cox, who lives in the area. She didn’t answer calls either.

PNM Mayaro officials said their nominees remain businessman Bunny Mahabirsingh and Antonio Ross.

Toco Manzanilla MP Glenda Jennings-Smith has also submitted a nomination.

Arima nominees remain incumbent Anthony Garcia, former MP Pennelope Beckles-Robinson and Dr Hillary Bernard.

St Ann’s East’s sole nominee so far is MP Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.