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De Lima’s motion meets defeat
A motion by Congress of the People (COP) deputy chairman Vernon de Lima was defeated during the party’s national council meeting in Charlieville, Chaguanas, yesterday. De Lima, who said he would resign from the COP if the motion was defeated, said he would remain a member of the party for the time being. The motion, which called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to dismiss National Security Minister Jack Warner or face a walkout of the COP from the coalition government, was debated for almost three hours.
Political leader of the COP, Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar, said about 90 per cent of the delegates who attended the meeting voted against the motion and voted in favour of the party continuing to work to provide “good governance” and “accountability” to the people of T&T. “We will continue to work in the Government to do these things and deliver on the promises we made,” Ramadhar told reporters following the meeting.
Ramadhar said de Lima’s motion was amended to allow for the Commissioner of Police “to conclude any criminal investigations into (matters involving) that minister to be fair so that we could have a final resolution in relation to any criminal charges or not. It is fair to all to have a final and quick determination of the issue.” Police investigations in allegations of wrongdoing by Warner in his former capacity as a FIFA executive are ongoing.
Ramadhar said the motion was also amended to ask that Warner “may not be allowed to sit in the Cabinet pending the police investigations.” He said that will be communicated to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the other coalition members “but without the ultimatum that if it is not provided for, that we will walk. 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.”
He said the COP is committed to serving the people of T&T and will “not destabilise the entire country by having one of the main (coalition) partners walking away from the Government.” He said the People’s Partnership was voted in by an overwhelming majority of people and that must be respected. “We were voted in for five years and we will not abdicate our responsibility to the population anytime before that period,” Ramadhar said.
Asked if the COP was remaining in the Government on the basis of loyalty or morality, he said: “We are staying because we promised the people of Trinidad and Tobago certain things which we have not yet delivered on and we are working towards delivering.” “So it is on the basis of duty to people, duty to our promise and the delivery of those promises that we continue to work,” he said. Ramadhar said one of the major projects he is committed to completing is constitutional reform.
“So to walk away today and to abdicate that, when will it come if we don’t do it,” he said. Ramadhar said he would speak with de Lima to determine his future in the party. “Mr de Lima is a treasured member of the party, the motion having been defeated ... he made public pronouncements ... unfortunately he had to leave before I could have talked with him,” he said. Ramadhar said rejection of the motion showed clearly that the COP is united under his leadership.
“If there was any question before that question has been put to rest,” he insisted. He said the original motion was not a COP motion but a Vernon de Lima’s motion. He said that motion was not a good reason to give the Prime Minister an ultimatum. De Lima was unsuccessful in having the matter put before a national assembly of the COP. Prior to the defeat of the resolution, COP member Nalinee Dial told reporters she would take off her COP shirt and resign from the party if the motion was defeated.
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