MSJ to contest local, general elections

The Move­ment for So­cial Jus­tice (MSJ) says it will con­test all 114 elec­toral dis­tricts in the up­com­ing Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions and 41 con­stituen­cies in next year’s Gen­er­al Elec­tion as it seeks to over­throw the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment (PNM).

Nom­i­na­tions for can­di­dates will take place at the par­ty’s head­quar­ters from Ju­ly 1 to 31 be­tween 9 am and 4 pm. Forms are avail­able at the head­quar­ters and on­line. Can­di­dates will be screened fol­low­ing nom­i­na­tion.

But MSJ’s elec­tions of­fi­cer Ernesto Ke­sar said the par­ty was wor­ried that Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions may not be called.

He said the PNM has a his­to­ry of post­pon­ing the de­mo­c­ra­t­ic process and has failed to de­liv­er on its promise of lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form.

Un­der for­mer PNM gov­ern­ments, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions were post­poned be­tween 2006-2010, 1962-1968 and 1974-1977.

Speak­ing at yes­ter­day’s me­dia con­fer­ence at the MSJ’s new head­quar­ters on Lord Street, San Fer­nan­do, Ke­sar said the nei­ther the PNM nor the Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) has the gump­tion to bring lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form as it will re­duce the pow­er of cen­tral gov­ern­ment and em­pow­er lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

“We have seen lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions post­poned twice un­der a par­tic­u­lar prime min­is­ter and it was post­poned again. It seems like it is go­ing to be post­poned once more be­cause we have not seen any move­ment to­wards the pre­sen­ta­tion of that lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form bill that seems to be very elu­sive.

So we are call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to make good on its promise be­cause, at the end of the day, lo­cal gov­ern­ment is where true gov­er­nance for the peo­ple will be ob­tained.

But it seems like no ad­min­is­tra­tion, red or yel­low, PNM or UNC have had the gump­tion to bring that leg­is­la­tion to Par­lia­ment, to de­cen­tralise pow­er.

“Be­cause this is what is hap­pen­ing here, we have some­thing that is called max­i­mum lead­er­ship in their coun­try.

There is no change in the di­men­sion where lead­er­ship is con­cerned. As a re­sult, it lends to what the po­lit­i­cal leader men­tioned where small groups of peo­ple con­tin­ue to get the li­on’s share in every­thing. In some cas­es, they don’t even vote. We are say­ing here this morn­ing, let the vot­ing peo­ple count for once in Trinidad and To­ba­go,” Ke­sar said.

Ke­sar said the PNM and UNC have bases but those did not con­sti­tute 25 per cent of the elec­torate. For this rea­son, he called on cit­i­zens to make their vote count and sup­port a par­ty that will lis­ten to them.

While the MSJ does not have the fi­nances as the PNM and UNC, po­lit­i­cal leader David Ab­du­lah said the funds will come from mem­bers of the par­ty and cit­i­zens. Ab­du­lah said that if 100 peo­ple con­tribute $200 month­ly, he said $20,000 will be enough to car­ry out cam­paign ac­tiv­i­ties.

With many small con­trib­u­tors as op­posed to a few large fi­nanciers, he said the par­ty would not be be­hold­en to just a few peo­ple but to many.

He said the MSJ does not plan to flood the me­dia with “in your face” po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­tise­ments as the pub­lic was fed up with those kinds of cam­paigns.

The MSJ was formed in 2009 and was led by for­mer Oil­fields Work­ers’ Trade Union pres­i­dent gen­er­al Er­rol McLeod. In 2010, it joined with the UNC, NJAC, COP and TOP to form the coali­tion Peo­ple’s Part­ner­ship (PP) which won the 2010 gen­er­al elec­tion.

But with the PP’s in­abil­i­ty to ad­dress cor­rup­tion with­in its ranks, the MSJ, then led by Ab­du­lah, left the gov­ern­ment in 2012. Cit­ing sev­er­al so­cio-eco­nom­ic and po­lit­i­cal fac­tors, it de­cid­ed not to con­test the 2015 gen­er­al elec­tion. In the 2013 and 2016 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, the MSJ con­test­ed a few mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.



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