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COP to elect new leader today
Today members of the Congress of the People (COP) will go to the polls to elect the party's third substantive political leader.
In 2006, the COP was formed by Winston Dookeran. By 2007, when a general election was called, the party had gained some momentum on the political landscape but was unsuccessful in winning a seat. It did, however, amass 148,041 votes. The party's last internal election in 2014 saw approximately 2,600 members vote.
In 2010, the party won six seats under the People’s Partnership and in 2011, Dookeran stepped down as political leader. Prakash Ramadhar led the party from then until February this year. Dr Anirudh Mahabir has since been acting.
The party has a list of over 40,000 members eligible to vote for two candidates—former party chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Dr Sharon-ann Gopaul-McNicol.
The party's campaign looks at Reclaiming and Transforming T&T, with a theme of 'Country First'.
The election takes place from 9 am to 6 pm. COP members can vote at any polling station convenient to them once their name is on the membership list.
Dr Sharon-ann Gopaul-McNicol
McNicol's campaign has been focused on strengthening the COP from the ground up, in terms of its structure and processes, as well as presenting a blueprint for transformation to effective governance, which looks at models for various sectors in the country.
Gopaul-McNicol said she felt her campaign had gone well and was confident she had presented herself as not just the best leader for the COP but also the best leader for the country.
She said it was time citizens chose leaders who were competent in the areas under their responsibility, and said she had spent 15 years of her life studying and creating models for national development.
"I plan to make sure the arms of our party are back and up and functioning to get our candidates ready for local government and general elections."
Seepersad-Bachan, whose focus is on rebuilding the COP, said the party cannot expect to enter into any future election arrangements without having first proven to the people of T&T that it had returned to its founding values and principles.
"That is what I have been structuring for the party's organs, a Solution Series, where our young and experienced nation builders can sit together and forge a new path for sustainable development,."
Seepersad-Bachan said she felt she had the right combination of skills, experience and people to turn the COP around and present it as a viable alternative to the population.
She believes the country needs politicians who can dispassionately deal with the issues of the day and who can find unity in diversity ."I have practised the principles and values of the party throughout my five years as a government minister and MP," she added.