There is a fight between the Congress of the People (COP) and the United National Congress (UNC) for the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation in the October 21 local government election.
The COP held an emergency national council meeting yesterday to discuss the breakdown in negotiations between both parties.
Speaking to the media just before 10 p.m., COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said there will be no backing down; the COP intends to field its own candidates for the Tunapuna/Piarco regional corporation.
Defeated Chaguanas West candidate Khadijah Ameen served as chairman of this corporation.
The national council meeting was closed to the media, but members congregated outside and expressed their objection to Ameen running for the local government election after a massive defeat in Chaguanas West.
Seepersad-Bachan said the COP has been negotiating with the UNC for the last couple of weeks, with the COP expressing interest in contesting seven of the 14 corporations.
She said the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) had asked for the Point Fortin Corporation in the negotiations, and the COP agreed to drop one and settle for six.
She said in the negotiations, it was agreed the COP can move forward with Diego Martin, Arima, San Fernando and Port of Spain regional corporations.
“Where we do have a sticking point in the negotiations and which we reported here this evening is the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation” she said.
“I do want to say that national council gave us direction this evening that this should be a COP corporation and, therefore, we will be reporting that has to be or should be a COP corporation,” she added.
Seepersad-Bachan said the sixth corporation the COP was looking at was in deep South.
She said the party had indicated Princes Town two weeks ago and was still in discussions with the UNC on this issue.
The national council she said was of the view the COP’s fight for a corporation in South was to reconnect with their supporters in the southland.
Questioned on whether the COP’s leadership held the view of some of its members that Ameen should not contest the local government election, Ramadhar responded if that position was to be taken, then the COP should not be here today as every one of the candidates suffered a very “honourable defeat” in 2007.
Asked if the party was going to hold firm in demanding the Tunapuna corporation, Ramadhar said the party was given a clear direction from its members.
Questioned on what happens if the UNC also holds firm, Ramadhar said those bridges will be crossed when they get there.
Seepersad-Bachan said while the COP wanted six corporations, the party was getting ready to prepare candidates for five corporations, including Tunapuna.
“We want to say in those five corporations, we are moving forward; tomorrow evening, in fact, we are finalising candidates; we’ve asked them to come forward here, they have been screened already at the regional levels and they’re coming foward tomorrow so we can finalise their papers” she said.
“In the case of Tunapuna, we are very clear that we also have to move forward with Tunapuna; our five MPs sit in that area, I’m the sixth and I sit in San Fernando West, and I do want to say that our candidates know that they do have to get into a state of preparedness and they are doing so as of this evening” she added.
Seepersad-Bachan said the COP expects the negotiations will be resolved in the COP's favour.
“We are prepared that there are some seats that will go to the UNC eventually, but we are saying at this point in time, the principle is that we must hold on to those electoral districts that are under our MPs,” she added.
Speaking with the Express just as he arrived for the meeting, Ramadhar said, “This evening is about the COP’s position in relation to local government and how we proceed. Having had negotiations with our colleagues, we have arrived at a position and we move forward to take directions from our party.”
Ramadhar said he “always trusted the wisdom of the COP”.
“I am, I feel confident that at the end of this evening’s (last night’s) proceedings, whatever decision is taken, it will be a mature one and that which will enhance Trinidad and Tobago,” Ramadhar said.