Former Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte

Curtis Williams

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The People’s National Movement (PNM) Executive of the La Brea constituency has voted overwhelmingly to endorse former Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte as its choice to contest the seat in the upcoming general election.

Guardian Media has learnt that the vote was 20 for Le Hunte and 2 for the incumbent Nicole Oliverre. This followed a 16 to 3 margin for Le Hunte when the party groups voted Thursday.

Oliverre who has been the MP in the area for the last five years has not been popular among PNM supporters and it was surprising she offered herself up for re-election.

It means that Le Hunte has the backing of the party groups in the PNM stronghold and potentially sets up a collision course with Prime Minister and Political Leader of the PNM Dr Keith Rowley.

Several Cabinet sources told GML that Rowley was adamant on Thursday that he did not want to hear anything about Le Hunte insisting that the incident that led to Le Hunte’s resignation is not an isolated one.

Le Hunte quit the Rowley administration after a heated Cabinet meeting last week Thursday in which reports are he went toe to toe with Rowley over a Cabinet note. He also allegedly fell out with embattled National Security Minister Stuart Young.

Le Hunte was brought into the Cabinet by Rowley and was widely seen by the private sector as a Minister who could be approached to deal with the challenges they faced.

He is the party’s Vice Chairman and upon his resignation he insisted that he remained loyal to the PNM.

Since his resignation the Prime Minister has been silent on the issue as he has been on the controversy swirling around his National Security Minister and the calls for Young to resign.

Under the PNM constitution the political leader no longer has the power to veto the recommendations of the screening committee.

Rowley was himself a beneficiary of this change when the late Prime Minister Patrick Manning had to abide by the majority of the party’s national screening committee in the run-up to the 2010 general election.

At that time Manning had objected to Rowley contesting the Diego Martin West seat for the PNM.