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Lovell Francis

Gail Alexander

Who is the “UNC candidate” which outgoing PNM Moruga MP Lovell Francis referred to in a comment which he posted online Wednesday?

The Opposition UNC claims it could be former UNC MP Winston “Gypsy” Peters who’s replaced Francis as PNM’s Moruga candidate.

But the ruling PNM believes Francis was simply referring to the UNC‘s Moruga candidate.

The intrigue arose yesterday. On Tuesday the PNM officially confirmed Peters was chosen for the seat. He was the sole nominee presented by the Moruga executive after Francis and four others failed to meet PNM screening team approval.

On Tuesday, Peters told Guardian Media he’d reached out to Francis last weekend and Francis told him to text-message him. Peters said he did and was awaiting a reply. Peters was hopeful everyone would support PNM’s campaign.

Francis didn’t reply to calls yesterday morning.

He was asked via text message whether he’d be joining Peters’ mobilisation in Moruga and supporting the PNM’s effort. He didn’t reply

However, Francis posted on Facebook Wednesday that he’d “worked hard for five years on the ground here, at the Education Ministry and in Parliament to represent and show this constituency in the best possible light.”

He said, “If we as a people sit down” and allowed a UNC candidate “ to be thrown into Parliament by default.. then all of my work would have been in vain. Peters alleged the candidate was “incapable of writing or uttering“ a proper sentence.

“That is not to be allowed,“ he’d warned about allowing the person to win. Francis advised people to “…Forget the person and focus on the bigger picture. Our progress must continue. And ah done…” he concluded the post.

UNC public relations officer Anita Haynes said, “Mr Francis left his posted message very open. I wonder if he may very well have been referring to PNM’s Moruga candidate who replaced him – Winston Peters, a former UNC candidate and MP.”

“It just might be Mr Francis is airing his sour grapes since he’s being replaced by a former UNC MP. His post couldn’t have been referring to anyone in UNC since his post misspelt the word ‘sentence’. We saw it. If he misspelt a word meant to criticise someone else’s command of the English language, it goes to show why PNM didn’t select him.“

UNC Moruga candidate Michell Benjamin echoed Haynes’ view.

But PNM Moruga chairman David Trim retorted,” I don’t think he was referring to Gypsy at all….I feel it’s UNC candidate (he was referring to) Dr Francis has stated publicly that he supports PNM’s leadership and is supportive of the party.“

”Never would he do anything that could be seen as supporting the UNC. To bad talk the PNM would be to put a feather in UNC’s cap and he wouldn’t do that.“

Francis didn’t answer calls on the post.

Peters said he hadn’t received any response from Francis after sending the text Francis requested. “I push on with my work – that’s my only focus now,“ Peters added.

UNC which has announced five candidates will announce more at tonight’s UNC virtual platform meeting.

Ex UNC Local Government nominee, is PNM candidate

Meanwhile, UNC’s Haynes said Sharda Sackram – whom PNM chose for Couva North – was a UNC Local Government nominee for 2019 Local Government elections. Haynes said Sackram wasn’t selected.

Sackram yesterday confirmed she was screened by UNC for Balmain/Calcutta but wasn’t chosen. She said in 2019 UNC’s leadership had called for youths to step forward for Local Government polls, “I heeded the calls. I really wanted the opportunity to serve the people of my area. But all I found was lip service. The UNC wasn’t serious.“

”I have no problem with not being selected there. I had some rather eye-opening experiences during my short time with UNC. But I hold no hate for anyone in that party.“

On joining PNM, Sackram said, “I’ve always been passionate about serving my community. I’ve found a lot of young people being given real opportunity to serve in the PNM and I’m comfortable there. They’ve welcomed and accepted me. So it’s the political vehicle for me going forward.”