Last update: 08-Dec-2013 8:48 pm
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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I never agreed to debate—PM
It was out of a sense of fairness to the Congress of the People (COP), said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, that she chose to let the COP represent the People’s Partnership (PP) in the Leaders’ Debate. Speaking to supporters at Salt Mine Trace, Fyzabad, on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar expressed her dissatisfaction with COP’s exclusion in the senior members’s debate and inclusion of the Movement for Social Justice’s (MSJ).
Because of Persad-Bissessar’s unavailability the T&T Debate Commission on Monday cancelled the debate which was scheduled for last night. The commission stated the rules did not allow for substitutes. Persad-Bissessar said: “In my respectful view it was unfair to the COP in the manner in which the Debate Commission was handling the debates.
“They allowed the MSJ to participate after the MSJ made some noise when the MSJ has not a single member in the Parliament, when the MSJ has no local government councillor or alderman. “They allow the MSJ to participate. When the MSJ was a partner with the PNM on the roundtable... while MSJ and PNM was on the same platform and then they come now... they say in the partnership they will not allow the COP to participate.
“In equity and fairness I believe it was unfair to the COP, contesting seats in local government, holding seats in the Parliament and therefore I held to my view that Mr Ramadhar was well qualified as a leader in the partnership and also a senior Cabinet minister to represent the partnership in the debate.” She said she did not back out of the debate because she had never agreed to represent the PP in the debate.
Persad-Bissessar said she personally informed the commission via e-mail that Works Minister Surujrattan Rambachan would represent the PP in the first debate and COP leader Prakash Ramadhar in the second debate. She said the commission said no and that it wanted her to participate as the leader of PP.
She added: “I replied a...we are a partnership of several parties and therefore he will represent us. Today I am reading ‘Kamla drops out’ or ‘opts out’, when they knew all along that by me there was no commitment ever that I would be the person to represent the Partnership.”
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