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COP STANDS FIRM

Second Partnership meeting today as Prakash insists Marlene must go

By Renuka Singh

Congress of the People (COP) leader Prakash Ramadhar yesterday stood firm on his original position against what he has described as the hijacking of his party's hold on the San Fernando Mayorship.

Ramadhar yesterday chaired a meeting with party executives, senior members and COP councillors at the party's operations centre in Charlieville, Chaguanas.

"Our position has been made clear from day one and really it is nothing other than the restoration of the trust that the people gave all of us in the People's Partnership and the agreement which was made on the Fyzabad Declaration," Ramadhar said.

Days before the UNC's March 24 internal elections, San Fernando Mayor, former COP member Marlene Coudray, shocked the COP camp when she defected to contest the deputy political leader post in the UNC.

Ramadhar was upset that Coudray did not announce her intention to the COP and called on the UNC to abide by the five-party gentleman's agreement which gave the COP control of the San Fernando mayorship. There has been one leadership meeting since this rift occurred and a second one is planned for this afternoon.

Speaking with reporters after the four-hour meeting wrapped up just after midday yesterday, Ramadhar said, "I have never made a statement that the COP will walk but sometimes arguments and very vociferous ones at that are launched on a false premise and you know what that ends up in? Complete confusion," he said.

Ramadhar was referring to recent comments by Sport Minister and COP member Anil Roberts that he should not walk away from the partnership over the San Fernando mayorship loss.

Ramadhar said he continued to have the unfailing support of the COP group and though Roberts was invited to yesterday's meeting, he did not attend.

Ramadhar said out of respect for the tenets of the Fyzabad Declaration, the COP did not contest several seats during the 2010 general elections.

"Nor did we run candidates in every seat for local government. There was an agreement and part of that agreement included the right of the COP to have a mayor in San Fernando," he said.

"Therefore the negotiations for local government elections for the seats and for general elections were done on the basis of the Fyzabad Declaration that we were working together," he said.

"The size of the office does not matter. It is the principle that we stand on that agreements have to be maintained," he said.

Ramadhar said in any relationship, if the parties did not adhere to a mutual agreement, then that relationship could be "jeopardised".

Despite that statement, Ramadhar clarified that his stand would protect the Partnership in the long term.

"We are here to protect the Government and the People's Partnership in the long, long term," he said.

Ramadhar said the coalition "must survive based on principle and agreement".

Asked about the possibility of a stand alone COP party, Ramadhar said, "In life there are many, many options which are easy and options which are hard. You know I am a forward-looking person, but to share that now, without having consultation with the rank and file of my party would be to abdicate my role as leader of this party."

With regards to Roberts's no-show at the meeting, Ramadhar said he was accustomed to "personal disappointments in political life".

"But I always believe that when decisions are being made, if you have a point of view that you wish to share, this is the time to share it and not go making statements that are ill-informed," he said.

Just before the 9.30 a.m. start of the meeting, Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah was seen exiting the building. Though both Abdulah and Ramadhar remained tight-lipped on their meeting, Abdulah confirmed that the discussions were focused on today's meeting with the coalition leaders.

Abdulah, at the behest of MSJ seed member Ancel Roget, leader of the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU), recently gave the Partnership until its May 24 anniversary to correct several concerns about the way in which the coalition is managed.

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