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Dookeran: I’m not resigning

By JULIEN NEAVES Wednesday, August 13 2014

click on pic to zoom in
READY TO RUNForeign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, a COP founder, has a stern look for Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramdhar, the COP leader, in ...
READY TO RUNForeign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, a COP founder, has a stern look for Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramdhar, the COP leader, in ...

FOREIGN Affairs Minister and Congress of the People (COP) founder Winston Dookeran, who broke rank with the Cabinet and voted against the Constitution (Amendment) Bill in Parliament on Monday, said he has no plans to resign from his ministerial portfolio.

While piloting the bill Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that MPs would be freed of the doctrine of collective responsibility, a doctrine which requires a dissenting Cabinet member to turn in their resignation, but they would be allowed to vote based on conscience.

Dookeran, in his contribution to debate on the bill in the Lower House, said he could not support the bill and its runoff mechanism as it is against the principle of a proportional mechanism. He also said, while he appreciated the Prime Minister waiving collective responsibility, he is also prepared to “accept the obligations of that vote in the context of collective responsibility”.

Newsday yesterday asked Dookeran whether that meant he was considering resigning and he responded that he was not.

“I am prepared to accept (the obligations) and that is all I will say about it,” he added.

He also said he was not really concerned about any backlash for his decision.

“I think it is a decision that in my view will generate some new thinking on the issue before us,” he said.

Questioned whether he was disappointed that the COP did not have a united front on the bill - COP political leader Prakash Ramadhar and COP MP Dr Lincoln Douglas voted in favour of the bill, COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan voted against and COP MP Dr Rodger Samuel abstained - Dookeran responded, “those questions are not really for me. I made my own position (known).”

“I said my piece and I’m waiting to see what will develop when it goes to the Senate,” he added. Samuel, speaking with Newsday yesterday, declined to comment on his choice to abstain. He did comment that the Prime Minister’s choice to open the vote to one based on conscience was “unprecedented in life”.

“As a matter of fact I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that (again). Nobody has ever done that as a Prime Minister and give their members of Government the freedom to vote. That was a ‘wow’ moment for me, tremendously. A real wow moment. I am still excited about the magnitude of her diplomacy and the magnitude of her ability to do that,” he said. “She has proven her worth to me and that she is a really, really dynamic person and she doesn’t have to rule with an iron fist but rule with grace. And that is powerful. I mean that overwhelms everything else,” he said.

The bill was passed at about 4 am yesterday following a marathon session that began at 10.30 am Monday.

See page 15A

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