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Ameen on campaign funding: Money can’t buy supporters’ loyalty
United National Congress Chaguanas West by-election candidate Khadijah Ameen has dismissed questions over whether the People’s Partnership is funding her campaign, saying money cannot buy loyalty and the Government cannot spend huge amounts of money on a UNC campaign. “I am not running an expensive campaign...the Government cannot spend money on a UNC campaign,” she told the T&T Guardian in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Her comment comes in the wake of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s questioning of the source of Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner’s funding for his campaign in the hotly-contested July 29 by-election. The PM queried Warner’s source of funding during a UNC meeting in Cunupia on Monday, saying the former Fifa vice-president appears to have a bottomless pit of money.
Noting that money cannot buy loyalty, Ameen said Chaguanas West constituents have told her they were offered thousands of dollars to vote for a certain party but had turned it down. She said people had been volunteering their time and their own finances to assist in her campaign. “One man with a printery pulled my picture offline and made 5,000 fliers and said that was his contribution...another woman printed jerseys to hand out,” she said.
Ameen told of a number of government projects in the pipeline before the election, which were now being done in Chaguanas West. These include the paving of roads and the regularisation of people occupying former Caroni (1975) Ltd land. She challenged the T&T Guardian to “come and see for yourself” the kind of reception she was getting. She said a poster with the words “Jack’s City” in Chaguanas West was torn down, apparently by the same people who put it up, and replaced with one that said “UNC City”.
Commenting on her earlier reports of thuggery against UNC supporters by rivals, she said the police do not have reports of them because no reports were made. She claimed supporters from a rival camp reportedly ripped off the UNC jersey of one of her people and threw him in a drain and another activist was threatened. She said she had received no further reports of thuggery, but noted that these things tend to happen in election campaigns and, sometimes, without the knowledge of the candidate.
“I am not accusing any candidate,” she said. Ameen said she has seen thuggery used in past campaigns since she was 17, but never saw it get beyond a certain level. “I remember a UNC mock station being kicked down in the East-West Corridor but things have not been as bad as in other countries,” she said.
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