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Deep concerns about proposed bill—Dookeran

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Congress of the People founder Winston Dookeran says some deep concerns have been expressed about the Government’s proposed runoff system, which some commentators claim will eliminate the chances of smaller third parties. “In view of the deep concerns expressed, I’m researching the situation a little more,“ Dookeran added yesterday when asked his view of the proposal. 

The runoff is part of a three-pronged constitutional reform package which Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced on Monday and which will be debated next Monday in Parliament. The most controversial aspect is the runoff poll. This is being proposed wherever there is a general election or by-election and the results do not provide a winner with at least 50 per cent of the votes cast. Dookeran said he would be speaking in Monday’s debate on the bill.

Arima MP Rodger Samuel said he hadn’t paid much attention to a lot of what was being said about the bill in the public domain. “I’m making my own  assessments,” Samuel added. COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said via her assistant on Tuesday that she had no comment. COP leader Prakash Ramadhar, chairman of Government’s Constitutional Reform Commission, was unavailable to answer queries. He is expected to be among frontline government speakers next week.

Last night’s COP national executive meeting was due to discuss the proposed changes, COP general secretary Clive Weatherhead told the T&T Guardian. Weatherhead said he couldn’t comment on views by other smaller parties that the runoff poll would mean their demise. 

But estranged COP members Rudy Hanamji and others want the COP’s executive to give the party’s position on the runoff poll, given that it didn’t form part of the Ramadhar Commission’s report and in light of the fact that such a change might have a negative impact on smaller parties like the COP. “Will COP MPs be in effect voting the COP out of political space?” Hanamji asked yesterday.

 They also want disclosure on how former Arima deputy mayor Patricia Metivier was chosen as  caretaker of the D'Abadie/O'Meara constituency, recently  vacated by Anil Roberts, details on her mandate and whether she will be thecandidate for the general election. (GA)


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