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COP defends De Lima - Jack must apologize (with CNC3 video)
Congress of the People political leader Prakash Ramadhar is demanding a public apology from National Security Minister Jack Warner over allegations that COP member Vernon De Lima, SC, was part of a secret meeting to destablise the country. Yesterday, Ramadhar, backed by his party’s national council, rallied around De Lima in denying Warner’s statement made during Friday’s debate on the contentious Defence (Amendment) Bill 2013.
He said the national council had passed a resolution calling on Warner to withdraw his statements and publicly apologise to De Lima. Addressing a media conference after the party’s national council meeting at COP’s Operations Centre in Charlieville, Ramadhar dismissed Warner’s allegations.
Speaking in the Parliament on Friday, Warner alleged that De Lima, whom he described as a former COP member, was present at a secret meeting with PNM agents where the statement was made “now is the time to destabilise the country.” The statement led to uproar in the House, with Speaker Wade Mark ordering Diego Martin Central MP Dr Amery Browne out of the Parliamentary Chamber for three hours.
Yesterday, Ramadhar said he has known De Lima all of his professional life and he “has always lived his life professionally and in his private capacity, as a person who is a true patriot of this nation and a man of exemplary character and reputation.” “The party is very troubled that allegations of such gravity and magnitude could be made against any citizen and particular in the circumstance of Mr De Lima, he being a past party deputy chairman and active member of the party,” Ramadhar said.
“We think that the injustice of that statement should be dealt with,” Ramadhar declared. He said De Lima wrote to the council about the matter, denying attending any such meeting. Ramadhar said he will be corresponding with House Speaker Mark to ensure a correction is made to the Hansard on that “grave error that occurred in Parliament on Friday.”
The COP leader said he was “optimistic” Warner would apologise for the statement, but hastened to add he could not speak for Warner. He assured the party will be looking at its other options in dealing with the matter if an apology is not forthcoming. “Mr De Lima, he has indicated to us in writing that he was not present any such meeting and that he is a current member of the COP,” he said. “I would only imagine that an apology would be not difficult in the situation.”
Ramadhar said if the apology is not made he will return to the national council to seek a way forward. The COP leader also expressed concern after a Sunday Guardian investigation which revealed a minister’s son is under house arrest in the US and is also assisting the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with investigations. He said he was waiting with “bated breath” for more information on this matter.
“It is extremely serious and I imagine quite urgent,” he said. He declined further comment since he said foreign authorities were yet to release information on the investigation. However, he assured the COP will not remain silent on the issue when material pertinent to the allegations are released. Attempts to contact Warner yesterday were unsuccessful, as calls to his cellphone went unanswered and he did not return calls or respond to voice messages.
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