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Fuad Abu Bakr.

Even as Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley took umbrage to claims he invited New National Vision (NNV) leader Fuad Abu Bakr to join the People’s National Movement (PNM), the latter says he is also offended by the current fiasco.Speaking on Tobago Channel 5’s Rise and Shine programme yesterday, Rowley denied speaking to Abu Bakr on representing the PNM in the forthcoming general elections and called the NNV leader’s claim “bizarre.” “I really take umbrage to Fuad telling people that he met with me and we had any arrangement, and la la la la la!” Rowley said.

“I have not met with and I have not spoken to Fuad on any matter, far less to get him into the PNM as a candidate. I do not know why he is doing that but I am just annoyed that he could be doing that.“Secondly, we are a political party. We represent all the people of Trinidad & Tobago and we are quite happy to attract people to the PNM.

“The purpose of political parties is the get political support and to win friends and influence people. We are happy if we’re doing that with all walks of life but that does not mean that you have to come and create this kind of unnecessary, bizarre circumstance.”

On Monday, Abu Bakr told CNC3’s The Morning Brew host Hema Ramkissoon that last Tuesday his father, Jamaat Al Muslimeen leader Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, spoke to Rowley and they were invited to get involved with the PNM. This was done at Rowley’s Diego Martin West Constituency Office, he claimed.But Rowley explained that the senior Abu Bakr is his constituent who sometimes visits his office. He said the Government decided to support the Jamaat’s primary school on Mucurapo Road as its students are also citizens. When the senior Abu Bakr visited his office, Rowley said it was to deliver a postcard that was signed by the pupils thanking him for the Government’s support.“That’s what he came to my office for. I don’t know how that became me meeting with Fuad and Fuad, the leader of a political party, to be screened in the PNM. It is just bizarre,” the PM said.

He added that Fuad Abu Bakr was not a PNM member, was the leader of another political party and therefore could not qualify to represent the PNM as a candidate for the upcoming general elections.“There was no situation of him having a nomination by a party group and coming for screening. We said that over and over and over and he is going on the media and saying ‘I met with the political leader’. It is not true. It is simply not true.”In response to Rowley’s denial, however, Abu Bakr maintained he was approached by the PNM and that Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein was appointed to facilitate his candidacy.Abu Bakr said he never stated that he met Rowley personally. He said that at last Tuesday’s meeting when his father visited Rowley, representations were made about him, his father and the Jamaat getting involved with the PNM. He said he was even given PNM general secretary Foster Cumming’s number to call. “I don’t know why the Prime Minister think it is so negative to associate with me and my political work in the open light. I take umbrage to people who want you to work for them on the ground to campaign but they do not want you to be involved in the representative process,” Abu Bakr saidHe said this type of “using” is a thing of the past. (KF)