COP TO PM: DEAL WITH JACK
By LARA PICKFORD GORDON Monday, September 10 2012
A motion brought by Vice-Chairman of the Congress of the People (COP) Vernon De Lima calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to remove Minister of National Security Jack Warner from the Cabinet or else the COP would leave the People’s Partnership government was “resoundingly” defeated at the party’s National Council yesterday.
There was a heated debate on the motion at the COP Operations Centre, Caroni Savannah Road,
Charlieville. Some persons were very vociferous in expressing their views. Members were there since ten in the morning. When it was voting time, few supported the motion which hinged on: the COP’s position two years ago that Warner should not be a member of Cabinet until he is cleared of allegations made against him by FIFA, the situation is now worse than two years ago since the Court of Arbitration for Sport in its recent judgment published on its website July 24. Warner is currently being investigated by the TT Police, and with the COP’s sated position about matters of transparency, truthfulness and decency, Warner should not be a member of Cabinet at this time.
Addressing a media briefing after 5 pm, COP Political Leader Prakash Ramadhar said “this matter was completely and fully discussed at the National Council and delegates representing the rank and file of the party voted minutes ago, almost 90 percent or more voted against that motion.”
Newsday later learnt that six persons supported the motion, while more than 70 were against.
By the time the vote took place many persons had left.
Although the media were invited for a press briefing at 2 pm, it was only after 2 pm that the motion was presented and another hour before it was debated.
De Lima prior to attending the Council said he was “minuscule” in the party and “Whatever they (members) say will be final word of the party.” it was the members who will have their say and represented all.Just before 5 pm De Lima left the meeting room and told the media his motion had been defeated. He was leaving hurriedly and said there had been a death in his family. He told media “at this point” he was still a COP member.
While this was defeated, Ramadhar announced that an amended motion which indicated that “having regard for all the things in the public domain” that Warner not continue to sit in the Cabinet
Ramadhar said, this motion would be taken forward to partners in the partnership and Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the leader of the UNC, but without the ultimatum that the COP would leave.
“We think the moral strength of the argument is strong and we expect the Prime Minister to act in accordance with what is best for Trinidad and Tobago on that matter. We have also asked in that motion for the police to conclude as speedily as is possible any criminal investigations in relation to that minister.”
He later said it was unfair for a matter to be hanging over anyone’s head without finality.
Ramadhar stressed that the COP’s “duty to people” and electoral promises were the reasons for staying with the Partnership for the five years the government was elected. He said the COP would not “destabilise” the country as it was one of the main partners in government. The government was voted in by the a majority of the population and the COP would not abdicate its responsibility.
Ramadhar said the COP had work to do and referred to the Constitutional reform process.
“I have been given that responsibility and we are working to bring that to fruition in the very near future.”
Asked about the status of De Lima, Ramadhar said he was a treasured member of the party and
he did not get a chance to speak to him after the motion was defeated because De Lima had to leave. Ramadhar said while some persons may have put the motion in the public domain “for whatever reason” the party had responded “resoundingly.”
On the issue of disciplinary action against such persons, Ramadhar said the party’s internal elections take place next month (October 28) and members would exercise their were vote for who they saw were best for the party. He said while there were “divergent views”, there was no split in the party since the foundation values were shared by all.
Today the COP celebrates its 6th anniversary.