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UNC Senator Saddam Hosein

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United National Congress Senator Saddam Hosein is being tipped to replace Barataria/San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan in the forthcoming general elections and Princes Town MP Barry Padarath will be screened by the party via Zoom platform today.

Also, Padarath says he’s open to being placed in any area and any form of representation the party chooses.

Developments have arisen after the UNC screened incumbent MPs and other nominees from Wednesday into 5.30 am yesterday.

Screening continues today for about 19 more nominees.

And while some UNC MPs are optimistic about how their screening went, others have been tightlipped–and Oropouche East MP Roodal Moonilal didn’t answer calls yesterday.

Khan, who attended Wednesday’s screening and bowed out before the screening panel, said: “I decided to (bow out). I’d told you on Tuesday that if I wasn’t chosen I’d support any new candidate in Barataria/San Juan.”

Hosein was among UNC co-ordinators in the constituency’s Barataria by-election in 2018. The UNC won that by-election but slid in the area in Local Government polls. Meanwhile, the number of new nominees screened––and to be screened––has been high in the Central safe seats, UNC officials said. Nominees included a former industrial court judge with Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha family connections (Caroni Central), UNC’s general secretary Dave Tancoo (Oropouche West), chef Jason Peru and analyst Kirk Meighhoo (Caroni East) and the wife of a former COP politician (Couva North and South).

Senator Kadijah Ameen’s tipped for St Augustine. Meighoo’s also nominated for Chaguanas East where Chaguanas mayor Vandana Mohit is tipped.

MP Padarath, in Miami since March, said he was told tentatively he’d be screened via Zoom platform today. He said he’s only received a preliminary exemption from Government to return home and must now produce travel arrangements to get the full exemption. Padarath yesterday said he’d work it this weekend, send the information to the National Security Ministry and hoped to be home by next week once he finds operating and cost-effective flights to T&T.

Padarath said while he filed nomination for Princes Town, he’s noted MPs have been shifted to different areas from time to time.

“But as of now, I’m screening for Princes Town,” he told Guardian Media. On reports he’s interested in Couva North (where he lives), Padarath said: “There’s a sitting MP there and others have filed also… I have no control over selection. I leave it up to the party.

“Not living in Princes Town hasn’t challenged me…wherever the party places me and where they feel I can function in the best form of representation––I’m fine. I didn’t state any preference.”

Couva North MP Ramona Ramdial, who was screened Wednesday, said she’s confident of being chosen again. Asked if she’d be willing to shift from that seat to another, she said she wouldn’t be since she’s put a lot of work into her constituency.

Mayaro MP Rushton Paray is among incumbents tipped to return and officials said his screening was “pretty smooth.” Paray, a businessman and Bhoe Tewarie were on the 15-member team which formulated the UNC’s economic plan which Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar revealed in the 2020 Budget debate.

Yesterday Paray said: “I’m fairly confident of being reselected. I have every confidence UNC’s leadership will take us into Government.”

MPs Tewarie, Rudy Indarsingh and Fazal Karim were tightlipped on their screenings. Moonilal, normally responsive, didn’t answer calls or texts on his. Meanwhile, several people screened earlier in the year for La Brea, where the PNM’s still to select a candidate, are awaiting word on a candidate.