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The national council of the Congress of the People has agreed with a proposal by the outgoing leader of the party Prakash Ramadhar to hold elections for the Political Leader and national executive elections on the same day, April 24.
That was one of the major decision’s taken during yesterday’s regular national council meeting of the party at Charlieville, Chaguanas.
Speaking during a news conference after the meeting, party chairman Jamie Bahadur said a motion for the two elections to take place simultaneously was passed “unanimously” during the meeting at COP’s Operations Centre, Charlieville, Chaguanas. Ramadhar tendered his resignation on Wednesday.
One of the party’s deputy leaders Dr Anirudh Mahabir said the executive “begged” Ramadhar to remain in office until the election was held because himself and the deputy leader, former National Carnival Commission chairman, Lorraine Pouchet, were “not as good as he is.”
COP general Secretary Clyde Weatherhead said the party’s constitution does not provide for Ramadhar’s resignation to be accepted or rejected.
“There is no need for the national council to approve or accept any resignation according to our Constitution, “ he added.
He said the motion to have the two elections on April 24 was done in order to ensure the party was prepared under new leadership for the local government elections , which are expected by November.
He said the party’s membership stands at about 40,000 and the COP’s elections commission will outline the process for the conduct of the polls early next month, adding that the campaign will be for a one-month duration.
Ramadhar was re-elected political leader in 2014, defeating his two main challengers, former party chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and former arts and multiculturalism minister Dr Lincoln Douglas. His term was due to expire in 2017. Ramadhar told party members he is quitting the leadership position because he wanted members who were disenchanted with his leadership to return under a new leader.
Ramadhar again said that he was taking full responsibility for the failures of the party over the past few years under his leadership. “Having lost the elections for local government (2013), having lost the general elections (2015), I take responsibility and if i shall have to fall on my sword that is what I do,” he stressed.
Ramadhar said: “The blood as it is to be spilled will be mine and no one else or the party’s.” He said his decision to resign was “to give the party a new avenue, a new path moving forward.” And some COP members yesterday expressed relief over his decision to resign.
One member said the party membership was “relieved as under his leadership the COP failed to capitalise on some issues in the former PP Government.”
Another member said the party was “looking forward to this new chapter in the party’s existence in the hope that it would lead to a revival of the COP and a return to its true identity.”