Michael Seales

Gail Alexander

Surprised but energised and ready to inject new life into the People’s National Movement’s (PNM’s) fight for Tabaquite, is how retired police inspector Michael Seales yesterday described the party’s decision to make him the Tabaquite general elections candidate.

He was initially nominated and screened last Thursday for Couva North.

PNM Port-of-Spain (PoS) South MP Marlene McDonald who is now before the courts on corruption charges, has not commented on a recent report that she’s “back” and wants to ”fight” the seat again for elections.

Nor did she comment on reports that she recently submitted a consent letter to be nominated.

In PoS South, nominees are constituency executive chairman Wendell Stephens and Brian Lewis.

The former got two party group nominations and the latter, one.

The unit has 16 financial groups.

Contacted yesterday McDonald said she was dealing with a home plumbing issue and couldn’t speak. She didn’t answer subsequent calls. Screening for PoS South is on Thursday.

The various developments arose yesterday as the PNM prepared to resume final screenings of nominees today and continuing on Thursday.

The party has so far screened for 26 of the 41 constituencies and has approved candidates for the majority.

PNM public relations officer Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing yesterday announced the party had chosen Seales in Tabaquite after he was screened last Thursday.

She said another Couva North nominee, businesswoman Sharda Sackram, was chosen for Couva North.

On why Seales was shifted to Tabaquite, a UNC stronghold, Lezama-Lee Sing, said, “We had a pool of very good candidates coming forward in Couva North; moreover, Mr Seales is a very strong candidate with national recognition.”

Last Saturday Seales’ team said he was open to being placed wherever the party wanted him.

Yesterday Seales said, “I’m a bit surprised and I welcome the decision. It means the PNM has considered and has faith that I can transition into the new responsibility. (UNC Couva North MP) Ramona (Ramdial) is lucky she got away. I’m now setting my sights on Tabaquite.”

While admitting to having limited knowledge of Tabaquite, Seales added, “I intend to immediately begin to develop upon what I know of the area as an agricultural community with retail businesses. I’m particularly energized about this seat since I’ll be seeking rapport with the youths to return them to the electoral process. They must be able to get their voices heard and determine their own future”

Seales said he intends to try to bring the community together and “promote Tabaquite as a southern jewel constituency”.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the people and learning their views and needs to see how this can be met and improve their standard of living. This will be a new start for Tabaquite with a supporting strong spirit,” he said.

Outgoing Tabaquite MP Dr Suruj Rambachan told Guardian Media, “Whoever PNM puts up, Tabaquite is a safe UNC seat – I won it by 4,000 votes in 2015.”

The UNC screened several people for Tabaquite last week, but none was subsequently announced. UNC party executive officials couldn’t say yesterday who, if anyone, was chosen.

The PNM Couva North’s unit yesterday stated it will work with whoever the party chooses.

The PNM’s Tabaquite unit had two candidates before the decision on Seales. The Tabaquite chairman didn’t answer calls.

Meanwhile, PNM’s Lezama- Lee Sing said PNM will today announce its decision on the Moruga/Tableland’s candidate.

National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston Peters was the sole nominee screened for the seat last Thursday.

Yesterday, Moruga officials said Peters was again walking the area and met with the leader of the group who protested against his nomination.

The PNM will also announce its Siparia choice today.

Meanwhile, the PNM Point Fortin officials said last weekend, PNM’s Point Youth League voted to support retired assistant police commissioner Donald Denoon for the nomination.

He’s the frontrunner nominee whom executive officials are supporting. Point Fortin mayor Kennedy Richards was also tipped as the nominee. The Point Fortin nominees include incumbent Edmund Dillon who was screened recently, but the unit was advised to expand its search.