Political leader of the Congress of the People (COP) Prakash Ramadhar has called an emergency meeting with various party officials. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 9 am today at the party's operations centre in Chaguanas. Carded to attend the meeting, according to party insiders, are:
• All parliamentarians
• All councillors and mayor
• All NATEX members
• All constituency chairmen
Sunday Guardian has been reliably informed that Ramadhar is expected to disclose his position to the officials before he meets for the second round of talks with the coalition leaders tomorrow. Ramadhar, the party source disclosed, has reportedly confided in certain individuals saying to one official he would resign, while he told another person that "someone has to maintain integrity and it has to be me."
According to the source, the Legal Affairs Minister described the last coalition meeting as "a total waste of four hours." The St Augustine MP, however, has remained tight-lipped around party members and all telephone calls have been forwarded to his assistant Sangeeta Ramnanan.
However, according to the party source, Ramadhar has refused to budge from his stance that San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray must be removed. Sunday Guardian understands that both the COP and the constituency executive, along with the membership, have come out in full support of Ramadhar.
"We feel betrayed. There was verbal agreement and it was agreed that the COP would be given two corporations-Arima and San Fernando," the party source said. The D'Abadie/O'Meara executive of Sport Minister Anil Roberts has also thrown its support behind Ramadhar.
Endorsing the position taken by the St Augustine MP constituency chairman, Kherry-Ann Sudama in a release stated that the executive supports the call by Ramadhar, to restore the mayor of San Fernando to a representative of the COP. Sudama stated: "The People's Partnership rests upon mutual respect and continued engagement as first seen within the Fyzabad Declaration, and looks forward to the restoration of unity and the continuation of the alliance."
Bartlett: I refused mayorship of San Fernando
Meanwhile, San Fernando Business Association head Daphne Bartlett has a different story to tell. In fact, Bartlett, told Sunday Guardian that she was the "first pick" for the San Fernando mayor but declined. Questioned as to whether the association recommended Coudray for the mayorship, Bartlett said: "It is a fact the association recommended Ms Coudray. I was asked to be the mayor of San Fernando but I am not politically inclined and declined the offer. I was also asked to serve under the former PNM administration but I am into business so I declined."
The association head said she was asked by the hierarchy of the UNC to make a recommendation for the mayorship and Coudray was chosen. "The Government wanted someone who is able to work well with the association. I consulted with our executive and the people of San Fernando and they all came up with the name Marlene Coudray because she has been CEO of the corporation for many years. The COP recommended a doctor," Bartlett explained.
'Dookeran is lying'
Told that former COP leader Winston Dookeran denied that a San Fernando doctor was the party's "pick" for mayor, Bartlett replied: "He is lying. It was not discussed. That was the name they (COP) put forward. They also recommended who should be the deputy mayor. It was just a toss up. Why are they saying that they chose a COP person for the mayor, they are lying and I am very disappointed."