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COP motion: Fire Jack or we quit PP
Government’s coalition partner, the Congress of the People (COP), is to debate a motion calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to remove National Security Jack Warner from Cabinet. Failing that, the COP will “distance itself completely“ from the People’s Partnership Government. Party vice chairman, Vernon de Lima, told the COP executive of the motion at Monday night’s executive meeting when the agenda for Sunday’s council meeting was formalised.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the executive, without calling names, noted Warner’s recent statement he was exploring buying a controlling interest in two newspapers and added that admission was contrary to the PP’s values. The executive issued a two-page statement demanding all ministers choose between personal commercial and the public interests.
Meanwhile, the upcoming motion calling for the Prime Minister to remove Warner is being presented by De Lima, who will pilot it at Sunday’s meeting. Contacted yesterday, De Lima confirmed a motion in his name would be debated. “If the motion fails to be passed by the COP National Council on Sunday, I have made it clear I will resign as COP vice chairman,” he said.
De Lima declined further comment or to say whether he would remain in the party if the motion failed. He has chaired several COP executive and national council meetings over the past few months since COP chairman Joseph Toney has been unwell. The motion states the COP’s position of two years ago that Warner should not be a Cabinet member until he was cleared of FIFA allegations.
The motion also says the situation is now “worse than it was two years ago” since the International Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) in a July 24 judgment on its Web site made public certain issues surrounding Warner, including a “secret US bank account,” his trustworthiness and truthfulness. The motion, stating Warner is “at present under investigation by the TT police,” and pointing to COP’s position on transparency, truthfulness and decency, said: “It must continue to be our position that Jack Warner should not be a member of the Cabinet at this time.
“Therefore, be it resolved that the Congress of the People calls on the honourable Prime Minister to remove Jack Warner from the Cabinet, failing which the COP will distance itself completely from the People’s Partnership.” COP’s leader Prakash Ramadhar and other executive members were at Monday’s meeting, when the motion was read. Members did not comment on it on Monday but it was approved for debate at Sunday’s 9 am meeting at the party’s Charlieville headquarters.
Yesterday, COP’s leader Ramadhar did not reply to T&T Guardian’s phone calls, nor did COP’s general secretary Nirad Tewarie or chairman Toney. COP’s deputy leader Dr Anirudh Mahabir, who attended Monday’s meeting, said he did not want to pre-empt Sunday’s debate by commenting. “It’s not something we can comment on or talk about until it’s fully discussed Sunday,” Mahabir added. Contacted for PP comment on the development yesterday, Communication Minister Jamal Mohammed, a COP member, said:
“Since becoming Communication Minister I have been invited to COP executive meetings but I have missed a couple. “However, on the issue of this motion, from the very beginning of the PP, there has always been a view among some in the COP that we should not be part of the coalition and they have sought any excuse to use in that regard and they have also seen Minister Warner as an area to move on where that is concerned. But most of the COP’s party members and the party leadership do not share that view. I am assured democracy will prevail in the COP on this issue and it will be dealt with appropriately at Sunday’s national council.”
Debate on Government-related issues is heating up within the COP as that party heads towards its election of executive officers next month.
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