http://bbccaribbean.com

15 February, 2006 - Published 08:51 GMT

Boldon: It's not the politics

He might be known to the world as a former Olympic track star. Last Tuesday, four-time Olympic medallist, Ato Boldon, was appointed to the Trinidad and Tobago Senate.

Boldon's appointment by the opposition United National Congress (UNC) to Trinidad's upper house of parliament comes during serious upheavals in the ranks of the party.

"I am not going to be involved in the politics of this party and, if it comes to that, then I will leave," he told BBC Caribbean.

He said that he would not be getting involved in any political infighting.

Boldon - not in this for the fame

Boldon, who is well-known for voicing his opinions on sporting and other issues told reporters after his first session in the Trinidad Senate that he had worked with politicians from all parties during his sporting days.

"I can be a bridge not only between the young and old in this country but between both parties in this country", he told journalists in Trinidad last week.

Boldon, who became known for his strong opinions and wraparound sunglasses during his track years, said last Tuesday that he was not in politics to "be in the papers...or for political gain."

Boldon won three bronze and one silver medal in the 100-metre and 200-metres at 1996 and 2000 Olympic games.

Asked about his first session in Trinidad's parliamentary upper chamber, Boldon told BBC Caribbean that it could be difficult sitting through hours of debate on legislation: "I learn quickly. I devote myself totally to whatever it is I am doing."

UNC divisions continue

The 32-year old former athlete comes into politics during testing times for the opposition UNC.

Divisions within the UNC deepened when one member Roy Augustus, resigned as an opposition senator last Monday, triggering a vacancy in the upper house.

Mr Augustus' departure followed a decision by the UNC leader, Basdeo Panday, to dismiss another senator, Robin Montano, for allegedly breaking the UNC's confidentiality rules.

A number of the UNC's elected representatives have been openly rebelling against their parliamentary leader, Basdeo Panday, who is a former prime minister. They want him to step down and let the party's elected leader, Winston Dookeran, run the party and become opposition leader.

A BBC correspondent says that, in tight spots in the past, Mr Panday has made high-profile appointments to deflect attention away from internal party problems.

Dookeran: "transition period"

When asked by BBC Caribbean about who is currently running the UNC, party leader Dookeran said: "We are in a transition period and hopefully we will find a solution to some of these grey areas."

He did admit that some talks had taken place within the UNC about the "transition period" in which Panday would remain parliamentary leader while he functioned as party leader.

Trinidad and Tobago's 31-member Senate is appointed by the ruling and main opposition parties and the country's Head of State, the President. Members of Parlliament are elected to the lower House of Representatives by popular vote.