Last update: 07-Dec-2013 3:12 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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COP chairman stands firm
The clash between the United National Congress (UNC) and its main political partner, the Congress of the People (COP) has failed to quash the smaller party’s demand for at least six regional corporations in the upcoming local government elections. In the hours after their public stalemate and the COP’s internal mandate to vie for the six positions, UNC’s negotiation team leader Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal described COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan as a “tough negotiator.”
But even with the political bad blood between the two, Moonilal said he was confident that the stalemate would be resolved later this week. “We are finalising negotiations. I am currently speaking to top level COP operatives. I expect that by next week Wednesday we will settle the matter,” Moonilal said in a text interview on Friday.
Moonilal’s confidence came just hours after the COP met in an emergency session and took the internal mandate to contest four areas—Arima, Port of Spain, Diego Martin and San Fernando, while negotiating for another two—Tunapuna/Piarco and another in southern-based constituency. Sources within COP have confirmed that it was the Tunapuna/ Piarco Regional Corporation that was the crux of the fall out. “The fight is really for that corporation,” the source said.
When asked if that COP internal mandate would invalidate the Prime Minister’s call for candidates to contest under one ticket, Moonilal said the People’s Partnership was “in this thing together.” “We stand side by side with the COP and NJAC in Trinidad,” he said. Seepersad-Bachan, in a telephone interview yesterday, said while her stubborn stance may seem “tough” she was simply following the mandate set out by the COP national executive and council.
“The next time we meet, I will once again put that mandate on the table,” she said. Days before the two are set to meet again, Seepersad-Bachan said the COP will continue screening candidates for the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation and expected to finalise that by today. Despite the fall out over the last three meetings and the stubborn COP stance, Moonilal said he was “pleased” with the process thus far.
Ragoonath: COP engaging in gun talk
At least two political analysts have weighed in on the possible implications of an all out battle between the two parties. Bishnu Ragoonath, in a telephone interview yesterday, said the COP was engaging in “gun talk” and “posturing” in order to be seen like a “viable option” in the political landscape. “The COP knows that if the UNC continues the way it is going there is the likelihood that the COP could be totally wiped out,” he said.
He said the COP was fighting for Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation in a bid to “retain a voice in the context of politics.”
Basdeo: The party fighting to signal its relevance
Another analyst, Maukesh Basdeo, yesterday said that it seemed the negotiation between the parties was taking place in the public domain rather than behind closed doors. “The COP is trying to signal its relevance, but if the COP intends to go for whole corporations, it could backfire and spell demise for the party,” Basdeo said. “This is a big gamble to show that it is still relevant,” he said.
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