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COP MP suggested early election at Cabinet meeting
The possibility of returning to the polls and having a fresh general election as a result of the Clause 34 issue was presented by a frontline People’s Partnership minister at last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting after it was revealed that the Prime Minister had fired Justice Minister Herbert Volney. The issue was raised by a senior COP member, PP officials confirmed.
They said the possibility arose in the context of discussing alternatives available to the Government following Volney’s dismissal and other alternatives suggested included finding ways to strengthen the Partnership and restoring public trust.
They said the idea of returning to the polls was immediately rejected by all Cabinet members.
COP MPs, along with those of other coalition parties, their leaders and members of their respective executives were invited to a meeting yesterday at the Phillipine home of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. A PP spokesman said the meeting, arranged last week, was to address the 2013 budget being presented on October 1. Senior PP ministers said members were notified of it after Volney was fired last Thursday.
Foreign Affairs Minister and former COP leader Winston Dookeran, a frontline MP and former finance minister, missed the meeting. A family spokesman said yesterday that Dookeran left T&T last Saturday to attend the United Nations General Assembly in the US. After the PNM’s march on the Clause 34 issue, a concerned Dookeran had said he was assessing the entire political spectrum, including the Section 34 matter.
Also absent from the PM’s caucus was COP leader Prakash Ramadhar, now acting as Justice Minister until minister-designate Christlyn Moore is sworn in this week. COP was only represented by MPs Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Rodger Samuel, deputy leader Anna Maria Mora and Port-of-Spain representative, Rudy Hananji.
Ramadhar was also among COP officials at last Saturday’s meeting of COP North-West members who voiced a mixed view on whether the COP should stay with the Partnership at Flagship House, Woodbrook. COP MPs said budget meetings for the Cabinet were normal, but yesterday was the first time the executives of the coalition partners were invited. Of the 46 present, more than half opted to stay in the Government and others said they wanted out of the PP, COP officials confirmed.
Some vehemently warned the Opposition PNM could enter government if COP left the Partnership and it disintegrated. COP chairman Joseph Toney told the T&T Guardian yesterday: “No vote was taken.” Attendees included MP Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, executive members Lincoln Douglas, Clyde Weatherhead, Anna Maria Mora and former senator Nicole Dyer-Griffith. The meeting was the first by COP branches to gauge views on issues including staying in the PP.
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