UNC/COP MPs stand by coalition
Friday, August 9 2013
Despite persistent rumours of defections from the United National Congress (UNC) to the Independent Labour Party (ILP) there was a large turnout of government ministers, parliamentarians and councillors at the party’s parliamentary arm and national executive meetings at Rienzi Complex, Couva, on Wednesday night.
The only two elected parliamentarians who did not attend the meeting were Princes Town MP and Deputy House Speaker, Nela Khan, and Community Development Minister, Winston “Gypsy” Peters, the Mayaro MP. Khan yesterday said she had informed the party that as a practicing Muslim she would be spending the closing days of the holy month of Ramadan at a mosque. Khan is expected to attend Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at a mosque at Manahambre Road, Princes Town.
As Acting Sports Minister, Peters said he had matters to attend to in Grenada.
Asked if he had joined the ILP, Peters said, “I am a UNC.” Asked if he would rule out joining the ILP in the future, Peters said, “I am UNC.”
The ILP is led by former UNC chairman and Government minister Jack Warner, who was re-elected Chaguanas West MP on July 29, and Peters was at his victory rally. The UNC national executive meeting was attended by Prime Minister and UNC political leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, deputy political leaders, Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, Dr Roodal Moonilal and Marlene Coudray, party organiser, Chandresh Sharma, election officer Ramona Ramdial, women’s arm chairman Stacy Roopnarine, policy and strategy officer Collin Partap; and Central regional representative Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh. They are all elected MPs, except Coudray, who is an appointed Senator.
Other elected UNC MPs who attended the parliamentary arm meeting are Naparima MP Nizam Baksh; Chaguanas East MP Stephen Cadiz; Moruga/ Tableland MP Clifton DeCoteau; Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh; Toco/ Sangre Grande MP Dr Rupert Griffith; Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh; Barataria/ San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan; La Horquetta/ Talparo Jairam Seemungal. Several government senators also attended the meeting including Energy Minister, Kevin Ramnarine and National Security Minister Emmanuel George.
Persad-Bissessar urged members to “check all of the facts” concerning resignations of members from the party saying there was a “lot of misinformation” in the public domain.
“Do not believe everything you read, do not believe everything you hear because there is a lot of misinformation,” Persad-Bissessar said, adding, “we are seeing misinformation where X is resigning, Y is resigning, P is resigning, everyone is resigning, which would lead you to believe there is a landslide of resignations, a tsunami of resignations, when that is not the truth.”
The only resignations from the party were former Justice Minister Herbert Volney, the St Joseph MP who is now an Independent. UNC Senator Lyndira Oudit resigned on Monday. Several elected MPs yesterday gave their commitment to the UNC and the People’s Partnership (PP) coalition. Labour Minister Errol McLeod, the Pointe-a-Pierre MP, said he has no intention of leaving the Government for the ILP. “Questions about crossing the floor and defecting to some other side will not come to my mind at all. I will not double cross nor will I go there in single file,” McLeod told reporters at the post-Cabinet briefing, Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. He said he is a “loyal, trustworthy and very determined individual.”
McLeod is the former political leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) and resigned before the party left the Partnership in 2012. McLeod was elected in Pointe-a-Pierre on a UNC ticket but never joined the party.
Also asked at the news briefing if he was leaving Government, UNC Moruga/Tableland MP Clifton De Couteau said,“I concur with my colleague (McLeod).”
MPs of Congress of the People (COP), a member of the PP, also stood by their party.
COP Arima MP Rodger Samuel, who has raised the issue of his future in Government, declined comment when questioned at the Diplomatic Centre. COP deputy leader and Lopinot/Bon Air West MP Lincoln Douglas said the issue of leaving the COP does not arise. “It’s a non- question,” he told Newsday.
The COP has six elected MPs and five of them are Cabinet ministers. They are political leader Prakash Ramadhar ( Legal Affairs), Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan (Public Administration), Winston Dookeran (Foreign Affairs), Douglas (Arts) and Anil Roberts (Sports). The COP has three senators (Ganga Singh — Water Resources, Jamal Mohammed — Communications and Dr Bhoe Tewarie-Planning) who are Cabinet ministers.