TRINIDAD-POLITICS-Opposition Leader clearing his office

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Embattled Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday Tuesday acknowledged that he was “clearing up his office” in anticipation of being removed from the post, but insisted that he had no intention of quitting the political party he founded 20 years ago.

On January 24, Panday lost the leadership of the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) to his former protégé, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who has since gathered enough votes among the opposition legislators to oust the former prime minster from the parliamentary post.

Panday, 77, told reporters that the transformation would be made as soon as he received the official correspondence from the Office of the President revoking his appointment.

“If she has the required number of signatures to present to the President (George Maxwell Richards) then I expect she would become the Leader of the Opposition and in those circumstances I ought to clear my office”.

But Panday, who served as prime minister of this oil-rich nation from 1995-2001, dismissed media reports that he was leaving the UNC to form a new political party, admitting also that his relationship with Persad-Bissessar, who served as attorney general in his government, has ended.

“I formed the party, I gave 20 years of my blood, sweat and tears to it so I have no intentions of leaving the party.”

Asked by reporters as to the existing relationship with the new UNC leader, Panday replied “we are not related, there is no relationship”.

The Trinidad parliament will meet on Friday and there is speculation that Persad-Bissessar will take over the position then.

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