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Congress of the People (COP) chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan has announced that she will run for the post of party leader, making it a four-way electoral race. In a statement yesterday, Seepersad-Bachan said she would file her nomination papers today at COP’s Operations Centre, Charlieville, Chaguanas. “I am thankful and encouraged by the overwhelming support I have been receiving. I have prayed and sought guidance on this very important life decision. It is with great humility that I now announce my decision to contest the position of political leader,” Seepersad-Bachan said. Asked what she planned to do to revitalise the party, she said she intended to meet with the COP membership and have dialogue before making further decisions. She also reiterated she wanted a clean campaign. Seepersad-Bachan has already faced a barrage of insults on social networking sites because of her decision to run.
Can they bring change?
Political analyst Dr Winford James said yesterday Seepersad-Bachan must outline how she intended to revitalise the COP. He said founding leader Winston Dookeran’s endorsement of Seepersad-Bachan had reflected negatively on the incumbent, Prakash Ramadhar. “Prakash has behaved as if he is more a member of UNC than COP. He has been bending to Kamla and not giving the sense that he is an alternative Prime Minister. He does not understand his role as a political leader. He has made unnecessary statements that suggest he is under Kamla’s thumb,” James said.
He said the COP has also not connected with the grassroots. He added that the campaign would have the same level of mudslinging as other internal elections but he had never associated Seepersad-Bachan with “public nastiness.” James said it was important to know on what grounds Seepersad-Bachan had decided to contest and that another candidate, Dr Lincoln Douglas, was “an unknown” in the political arena who had never spoken out on public issues. “He has been quiet on all issues so the public does not have a sense that he can lead anything.
“He is an accomplished professional. He has some skills and talents that he can bring to win people from within the party but he is unknown where the wider public is concerned,” James said.
Another analyst, Dr Mukesh Basdeo, predicted the elections would be an open race and interesting. “We have to wait now and see whether the candidates plan to put up slates,” Basdeo said.
He added that it would be interesting to see whether Douglas and Ramadhar also put up other candidates. Asked whether Seepersad-Bachan was capable of revitalising the COP, Basdeo said it was too early to say. “That will be tested in this election and we will see whether she has the charisma,” he added. Basdeo also said since the general election was less than 12 months away, it remained to be seen how the COP would transform.