Just over eight years ago, in the run-up to the General Elections, PNM Diego Martin West candidate, Dr Keith Rowley warned of court-martial within the ranks of that party.
Rowley who was fired two years earlier by then Prime Minister Patrick Manning, was at a political meeting in Four Roads, Diego Martin, warning that those who didn’t hear would feel.
He told his supporters that if things did not turn out right, there would be consequences. Well, Manning lost the elections and was hounded out of Balisier House days later by supporters of Rowley.
Fast forward eight years later. Rowley is accusing a candidate in the PNM internal elections of treason.
With a hotly contested elections expected on Sunday, Rowley accused one of his rivals – Mustapha Abdul-Hamid – of trying to undermine him and causing treason in the party.
Abdul-Hamid, a former Government Minister, is vying for the post of chairman as an independent candidate in the PNM election. He comes up against Minister of Finance Minister, Colm Imbert, who is on Rowley’s slate.
Abdul-Hamid served under Manning, but has not been a supporter of Rowley. But Rowley told supporters on Tuesday night not to vote for Abdul-Hamid since he had a career of being hateful, opposed to everything in the PNM and never held office in the party.
He added, “Mustapha’s claim to fame is committing treason on the PNM. When you going out there trying to mobilise party MPs to over throw the leader in the Parliament that is close to treason.
“Those who are now absolutely sure that they can run the party better than me and my team, let us compare the records.”
Rowley said some people have been saying that his leadership has been a problem in the PNM.
Following his appointment as Opposition Leader in 2010, Rowley said the agenda of Abdul-Hamid and others “was to deal with me.”
Rowley said he also had to a face a bank which claimed the PNM had owed $4 million on Balisier House which he had to save.
The party was also in arrears of $800,000 to PTSC while CNMG was owed a tidy sum.
Rowley added, “During the period while I was saving Balisier House, putting a team together and fighting the government to get the PNM in office I was the subject of their discourse. And the subject of that discourse was my unfortunate colour according to them. I tired tell them, you see me, I am a proud black man.”
Rowley pleaded with party members not to elect an OJT, but a competent and experienced team who can topple its contenders in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 elections.
He declared, “Any team led by Mustapha Hamid can’t be a serious team.”
For eight years, Rowley said, Abdul-Hamid distanced himself from the PNM.
Rowley recalled the last time he saw Abdul-Hamid was in his office in 2010 who he claimed was “fuming with hatred he had from 2009.”
He said Abdul-Hamid’s conduct was “so disgraceful in my office, and as he left my door I said to him quietly, immediately there, that you will never enter my office again.”
Having tried to undermine the PNM on the outside and failed, Rowley said the party’s internal election provides an opportunity for Abdul-Hamid and others “to come and undermine us from the inside.”
The PM said for over five years Abdul-Hamid told voters, PNM members and Muslims not to vote for the party.
Rowley said, “After all that behaviour, while we there fighting in the Opposition, while I am there fighting to save Balisier House and fighting to pay the bills and fighting to pay the staff, he walking around with letter to undermine me.”
Rowley said when he thought he had an Opposition working to go into Government “Hamid would have undermined and capsized the whole thing. And of course, that would have made a lot of nice news.”
He said Abdul-Hamid went behind his back “to tell the President to go against the (PNM’s) general council’s instructions and remove Rowley as leader. And put who?”
“This undermining is not an attribute. Here it is, I am having sleepless nights, trying to figure how to get from Opposition to Government, he can’t point to a single thing he has done in that period from 2010 to now.”
DR KEITH ROWLEY