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Deputy political leader of the Congress of the People Lincoln Douglas says the party’s leader, Prakash Ramadhar, is disappointed that he is contesting the leadership post. Douglas, MP for Lopinot/Bon Air West, made the comment during a press conference at the COP's Flagship House, Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. He said he had decided to run for the post as he had been encouraged by many to do so.
Nomination Day for the election of a COP leader and other positions is today at the party’s Operations Centre, Charlieville. Elections are to be held on June 29. Douglas made it clear he remained on good terms with Ramadhar and they continued to enjoy a healthy friendship. “Of course he is disappointed. We are good friends and I am his loyal deputy political leader still so I expected him to be disappointed and concerned but we belong to the same party, so it’s all good,” he said. On Ramadhar’s leadership skills, Douglas said: “I think Mr Ramadhar has led our party with the best of intentions and the best of ability. I think he has done a good job at a difficult time when we were joining a coalition and dealing with some of the issues of the past.
“So far, I think he has brought the party to the place where it is today and I think the party needs to move into a new phase.” Saying his candidacy was not about Ramadhar, Douglas said there would soon be a series of debates, cottage meetings and presentations from candidates.“But Mr Ramadhar is my friend, he is my colleague, he is my political leader and I respect him for what he has done so far in building the party and keeping it forward,” Douglas reiterated.
On the party’s founding leader Winston Dookeran endorsing incumbent chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan for the post of leader, Douglas said that signalled healthy politics, adding he was happy that Dookeran had “finally decided” to get involved in the party. “I am looking forward to his ongoing participation. I personally would be looking forward to his continued involvement and to be able to tap into his wisdom and his experience over the years,” Douglas added.
Vote for me because...
On what he could bring to the COP to take the party into a new phase, Douglas said he had an analysis of the culture and the people and also has the capacity to work with various groups.
He said one of the major issues which had plagued political parties, and in particular the COP, was the inability to create cohesion among different groups. “I can bring varying groups of people together around a common vision for the betterment of our country and mobilise people to execute a plan of operation. “No matter how good your plans are, if these plans are not executed by capable people, they will be unable to bring the kind of meaningful lifestyle we are recommending,” Douglas added.
On the state of the COP
On whether he believed the COP was weak within the coalition government, Douglas described the COP as the “lesser party” within the coalition, particularly in terms of numbers.
“But contrary to what a lot of people may think, we have been holding a strong line within the coalition. “However, for a coalition itself to be strong, the individual members of the coalition themselves must be strong and I think we definitely need to be stronger and to take a stronger stance in articulating, presenting and promoting the positions of the COP,” Douglas said.
Asked if he might decide to leave the coalition if elected party leader, Douglas said all things would be considered but in the same breath he said he did not have a problem with coalition politics as it was the order of the day. Responding to comments that the COP was dead, Douglas denied that, saying the party had made a significant contribution to the People’s Partnership Government and its policies.
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