HOPEFULS: Vallence Rambharat, centre, Congress of the People’s adviser to the Election Commission, is assisted by the candidates, who will be vying for the party’s leadership, in displaying the voters list at its Charlieville headquarters yesterday. From left are Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Rufus Foster, Prakash Ramadhar and Dr Lincoln Douglas. —Photo: ROBERT TAYLOR

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COP debates coming soon

By By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

THERE will be debates among those vying for leadership of the party in the upcoming Congress of the People (COP) internal election.

Incumbent political leader Prakash Ramadhar and other candidates, Dr Lincoln Douglas, COP deputy political leader, COP chair Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Rufus Foster, chairman of the Arouca-Maloney constituency, are expected to take part in the debates in the next two weeks.

This was announced yesterday by Vallence Rambharat, COP’s adviser to the Election Commission following a meeting at the party’s Operations Centre in Charlieville.

“We addressed the question of something that is unique in the elections of the Congress of the People (COP) and that is debates amongst our candidates. In the lead-up to our elections on the 29th of June, we would be hosting three debates. Two of our debates would be live debates in a television studio. I believe those will take place on the 17th and 24th of June and we will have one public debate which would take place on the 26th of June between the hours of 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.,” he said.

All four candidates were also presented with a voters’ list by Rambharat who said at least 40,000 were eligible to vote.

On Friday, the four filed their nomination papers at the party’s head office, each confident that they will be selected as the new or returning leader.

They all delivered brief speeches.

However, all with the exception of Ramadhar said the party was not as strong as it was when it was formed in 2007 under the leadership of Winston Dookeran, now Foreign Affairs Minister.

Seepersad-Bachan and Foster emphasised the need for coalition politics and had slightly different views from Douglas and Ramadhar who said even though coalition politics may be beneficial now, the COP should be able to contest an election on its own.

Ramadhar said the COP has “stood the test of time”, speaking out against issues involving government and country despite being a part of government.

As leader, Ramadhar said: “I have proven myself over time,” and encouraged people to “look at the facts, not opinions”.

At the meeting, candidates were also informed of the campaign rules which include no advertising in the media or spending more than $50,000 on his or her personal campaign.

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