United National Congress

From Academic Kids

Template:Politics of Trinidad and Tobago The United National Congress (UNC) is one of the major political organisations of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It is led by Basdeo Panday, a former trade unionist. The UNC was formed by a split in the ruling National Alliance for Reconstruction in 1988. The UNC controlled the government between 1995 and 2001, initially in coalitian with the National Alliance for Reconstruction later on their own. In 2001 a split in the party caused the UNC to lose its parliamentary majority. As a consequence of this the UNC lost control of the government. Between 1991 and 1995 and again since 2001 the UNC has been the Parliamentary Opposition party. Although many people see the UNC as the successor party to the United Labour Front, the UNC managed to attract much broader support than did any previous Indo-Trinidadian-dominated party.

The party symbol is the rising sun above the Trinity Hills.

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Opposition party

Missing image
Unc.jpg
Logo of the United National Congress

The party was founded in 1989 following a split in the ruling National Alliance for Reconstruction.In that split 6 MPs (including Panday) all of whom were former members of the United Labour Front left the NAR to form the Caucus for Love, Unity and Brotherhood 1988 (CLUB 88). CLUB 88 evolved into the United National Congress with Panday as leader. Panday had also been the leader of the United Labour Front

The UNC won 13 seats in the 1991 General Elections and became the official opposition. It won a 14th seat in a bye-election and gained another in 1995 when Ralph Maraj defected from the PNM. In 1995 Hulsie Bhaggan, MP for Chaguanas left the party to form the Movement for Unity and Progress (MUP).

Governing party

In General Elections held in 1995 the UNC won 17 of 36 seats ,and formed a coalition government with the rump National Alliance for Recontruction which had won 2 seats.

In the 2000 elections the UNC won 19 seats forming the government outright. However internal party elections in 2001 highlighted a rift in the party with Panday and Attorney-General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj in effect fielding rival slates. Maharaj's slate termed itself 'Team Unity'. Panday was not challenged as Political Leader but Maharaj's slate won 21 of the 24 other excecutive posts. Maharaj himself was elected as the new Deputy Leader.

This did not translate into increased prestige for Maharaj in the government as Panday refused to recommend Maharaj as Acting Prime Minister in his absence . Maharaj countered by initiating investigations into charges of corruption by Panday and his supporters. Panday then reduced the ministerial portfolios of Maharaj and his supporters. This led to the defection of Maharaj; Agriculture Minister,Trevor Sudama and Information Technology Minister, Ralph Maraj who formed the new party Team Unity. This led to the calling of early elections in 2001 in which the UNC were reduced to 18 seats in the House of Representatives .The opposition People's National Movement which also won 18 seats was called upon to form the government.

Opposition again

At the last legislative elections, October 7, 2002, the party won 46.5% of popular votes and 16 out of 36 seats in the House of Representatives. This makes it the current opposition in parliament to the ruling People's National Movement (PNM) government, which holds the other 20 seats.

In April 2005 the UNC was further weakened when Pointe--Pierre MP Gillian Lucky and San Juan MP Fuad Khan declared themeselved to be "independent UNC members" and relocated to the Opposition backbenches. On May 31, 2005, Basdeo Panday, together with his wife Oma, former UNC MP Carlos John and party financier Ishwar Galbaransingh were arrested for bribery. Panday refused bail and remained in prison for eight days. Panday's arrest has been viewed as politically motivated by UNC supporters and other members of the community, and has resulted in increased mobilisation by the party.

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