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Prakash flip-flops on decision to quit PP
Congress of the People leader Prakash Ramadhar and Cabinet ministers Dr Lincoln Douglas and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan were among COP executive members who voted on Monday for the party to pull out of the People’s Partnership. The executive took the decision at a specially convened meeting after the imbroglio surrounding Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011.
The decision was expected to be announced at 11 am on Tuesday at the COP’s headquarters in St Clair. However, no such announcement was made. Instead, COP political leader Ramadhar, who is also head of the Legislative Review Committee, apologised to the nation for the debacle surrounding the controversial clause. Party sources told T&T Guardian that a last-minute discussion with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar caused Ramadhar to deviate from making the announcement.
The discussion took place between midnight on Monday and 10 am on Tuesday, just hours before the party executive called the press conference. An executive member disclosed: “Even his own relative expressed the view that the COP needs to pull out from the PP. The leader is only flip-flopping all the time and we are fed up. It cannot be that the executive is making certain decision and without any consultation, changes are made without telling us.”
Members were polled on the recent turn of events and the results were 24 to two in favour of leaving the partnership. It was Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie and Arima MP Rodger Samuel who spoke out against the move to part ways with the PP. Ramadhar’s apology the following day, party sources said, left members of the executive stunned, and has sparked tension in the COP camp. At the press conference, Douglas was spotted leaving the room before Ramadhar had finished apologising.
Former COP deputy leader Robert Mayers would only confirm yesterday that he had been told the decision taken by the executive was expected to be announced. “Yes, I was informed that the executive had decided to part ways with the PP but what transpired between Monday and Tuesday amuses me.” Mayers participated in the march led by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley on Tuesday, which called on the Prime Minister to explain to the nation who is responsible for the debacle.
He said: “When I heard the COP had decided to sever ties with the PP, I decided to wear my COP jersey, but after I heard the announcement, I went back home and changed and then I joined the march. I do not want to be part of a comedy.” The party’s former vice-chairman, Vernon De Lima, also confirmed he had been invited as an observer to oversee the process, but said he was no longer authorised to speak on behalf of the executive.
Party sources said the executive had also taken a decision suggesting the Prime Minister set up a committee to investigate who and what was responsible for the debacle. In May, the executive decided to adopt an independent position on policy issues after the decision by former San Fernando mayor Marlene Coudray to switch her political allegiance from the COP to the UNC.
However, days later Ramadhar announced the COP was prepared to continue to bear collective Cabinet responsibility with the PP. His announcement caused a rift in the executive, with some members distancing themselves from Ramadhar. When contacted yesterday, party chairman Jospeh Toney said matters of national importance were discussed at the special meeting. Calls to Ramadhar, Seepersad-Bachan and Douglas went unanswered yesterday.
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