“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
While ILP leader Jack Warner is willing to have grand consensus talks with the COP, particularly on marginal seats, he has no plans to discuss any return to the PP coalition. “COP cannot be the glue to put the broken Humpty Dumpty of the PP back together again,” Warner said yesterday.
Warner was commenting on talks with COP vice chairman Nicole Dyer Griffith which started last Friday after COP leader Prakash Ramadhar sanctioned a return to COP’s 2009 grand consensus plan to dialogue with various groups, including parties. COP initiated the grand consensus in 2009 under Winston Dookeran’s leadership and had obtained consensus with NGOs and political parties, including NJAC and TOP, leading to the 2010 PP coalition.
A suggestion to restart dialogue with all bodies was made by a member at COP’s National Council recently. COP’s Ramadhar last Friday said he had sanctioned the move, which was his prerogative as political leader, since COP’s campaign had begun and the party was preparing its next manifesto. He said that that required COP to meet stakeholders, including political parties..
“We’re issuing an invitation to all and that’ll certainly include ILP. This is about T&T’s development. We want to hear everyone…they have a space as party, it’s not about only ILP but all stakeholders,” said Ramadhar when asked how this might work after a history of PP/ILP bitterness. On whether the consensus talks would mend broken political fences, Ramadhar said much of what has gone wrong in society is due to failed or distorted communication: “We need clarity on what people say, what they want and how to deliver that.”
Ramadhar said he assigned Dyer-Griffith to work out consensus mechanics. Yesterday Dyer-Griffith said the plan required discussions with all groups, NGOs and parties “and was not about personalities.” She said meetings will begin after Carnival since COP is working with a short time frame. Warner, commenting yesterday, said he met Dyer-Griffith for initial talks last Friday at his office.
“I gave her the assurance we’re prepared to talk to COP, especially as far as marginal seats are concerned. We’ll meet again after Carnival to discuss rules and terms of reference for any future political accord. “But as for PP, any return talk isn’t on the cards and that’s not something we’ll be talking to COP on. The PP’s irretrievably broken like Humpty Dumpty and neither the COP or anyone can put them back on the wall.
Warner added: “The quicker COP delinks from the PP and stands up for what is right it’s the better for what remains of their party. We’ll talk to anybody to rid T&T of corruption and vindictiveness.” Asked if the ILP would at all return to the PP, or talk with parties about it, Warner said: “I don’t know what the future holds but ILP won’t sacrifice its integrity on the alter of accommodation to T&T’s detriment. I don’t care what it costs, we can’t have quick fixes or instant successes.
“The Fyzabad Accord on which PP is based hasn’t worked and is irrelevant now, so that can’t be used again. The way to do things is have people sit down and work out serious alignments and know terms and conditions of management and rules and not after election, one man and his dog holding everything.” UNC deputy leader Roodal Moonilal commenting on COP’s move to talk to groups including the ILP, said in consensus building parties can talk to any group.
“If the COP wants to talk to parties that’s up to them. Their members, determine their policies and approaches,” Moonilal said. Other UNC officials said they saw COP’s consensus plan, as part of that party’s profile- strengthening moves for its July internal elections and not aimed at PP “restoration.” Some UNC MPs, including Winston Peters and Fuad Khan, continued to favour renewed unity in statements up to last week. Several others didn’t answer calls yesterday.