|COP will be stronger |
By LAUREL V WILLIAMS Saturday, June 7 2014
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Confident: St Augustine MP Prakash Ramadhar, with his wife Jayanti, give the thumbs-up sign after he filed his nomination papers seeking re-election a...
AFTER filing their nominations papers yesterday in Chaguanas, the four contenders vying for the leadership of the Congress of the People (COP) party all vowed to strengthen the party.
Incumbents, leader Prakash Ramadhar, chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, deputy political leader, Dr Lincoln Douglas and chairman of the Arouca/Maloney constituency, Rufus Adolphus Foster, expressed confidence of being victorious on the day of the internal elections on June 29. They each filed their nomination papers at COP’s Operations Centre in Charlieville.
First to do so was Ramadhar, who is also the Legal Affairs Minister/St Augustine MP. Accompanied by his wife Jayanti, Ramadhar arrived confident of retaining his title. After filing his papers, he declared COP is very strong and he is “fearless” in going forward. “Many demonised the strength of the party.
If strength in the political space is about making noise and having quarrels then I do not want any part of that strength. What I want is a strengthening of the political environment where decency and honour is the hallmark of the day,” Ramadhar said.
He said COP has achieved much within the past four years.
“What is important is that I have had to endure short term pain for long-term gain. Others may wish to have short-term gain and give us long term pain,” he said.
Ramadhar wished his opponents well, noting that Douglas had ambitions to run for the post back in 2011.
“So, he is entitled to his call to serve. We look forward to a healthy debate.”
Douglas, the Arts and Multiculturalism Minister and Lopinot/Bon Air West MP, arrived about an hour later and said COP is looking for meaningful leadership that will provide a clear vision of where the party should be going. On the issue of coalition governments, of which COP is a part of under the People’s Partnership, Douglas said such governance is prevalent worldwide.
He listed his priority as consolidating the party, working on its institutions so they can come together as a unified organisation and lead COP in the next general election.
Retired Staff Sergeant Foster, who said he joined the COP in 2006, described the party as the third major force which was once a great party over the years. “At present we are losing ground. It is for this reason I take part in this leadership process. The leaders of this party have it in a deplorable state. For that reason the membership is becoming stressed out daily to the point of not even wanting to wear a COP shirt,” Foster said.
He said he is depending on the votes of the “dejected membership” to lead him to victory.
If voted political leader, Foster noted he would consider a coalition arrangement. “All those options will include having dialogues with all the political parties including the PNM. If it is we think we can continue with the PP, then it will be the correct thing to do. If, after careful considerations, it does not make any sense then we need to pull out,” Foster said.
The last to arrive was Seepersad-Bachan, who also said COP needs to regain its identity.
“Sometimes people say we are too idealist but I beg to disagree. I will stand firm by the principles and values of this party. This is not about Carolyn only, it is about team leadership,” Seepersad-Bachan said.
Seepersad-Bachan, the Public Administration Minister/San Fernando West MP, on the issue of a coalition government, noted that disagreement between parties does not mean a breaking up.
“Not because I disagree with you means that I have to break up with you. If you do not have strong partners, how can you have a strong government? It cannot be that one partner alone is strengthened and others are not,” Seepersad-Bachan noted. She has been endorsed by the founder of the party, Winston Dookeran, who is going to run for the chairman’s post.