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Toney blames COP defeat on Clico brief
Former chairman of the Congress of the People (COP) Joseph Toney says the controversial Clico brief could have caused his defeat in the party’s internal elections on Sunday. The issue was raised by one of his opponents, Rekha Ramjit, on the public debate platforms during the run-up to the elections.
Toney returned the Clico/Hindu Credit Union inquiry brief to the Finance Ministry after complaints by party members and members of the public who questioned his integrity. Toney said yesterday he had no regrets he gave up the brief to preserve his integrity.
Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan secured 1,191 votes to take the chairmanship from Toney, who polled 619 votes. Ramjit received 243 of the votes cast in 20 polling stations throughout the country. Both Tony and Seepersad-Bachan spoke yesterday about the mere 25 per cent voter turn-out.
Toney and Seepersad-Bachan agreed there was disillusionment among party members and saw an urgent need to bring them back into the fold to make the party relevant. In a telephone interview he said: “There is some disillusionment in the party. Some people feel the COP is not as influential as it ought to be in the People’s Partnership (PP) Government and some of them are losing faith in the COP.
“Our duty, as members, is to try to bring them back, encourage them not to break ranks, to help keep the party strong and unified.” However, Toney was quick to point out: “That is a matter for the new executive.” He said he remained a loyal member of the COP but the role he now would play was a matter for the leadership.
He added: “I will play any role the leadership of the party wishes me to play but I do not intent to trespass on anybody’s portfolio or responsibility. I am sure my telephone number is still on the list and at the snap of a finger I am sure they can get in contact with me.”
He said the party had to close ranks quickly as the Tobago House of Assembly and local government elections were fast approaching. He added: “I had a programme of work for next year but the membership decided by their votes that programme is not worth their while. The new chairman did not outline a programme in her campaign but I guess she still has time to muster one up.”
Seepersad-Bachan said over the past year, members had felt disconnected from the leadership of the party. She said through its community circles initiative, the party would empower members and rekindle the interest.
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