Congress of the People (COP) chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan yesterday dismissed allegations from People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley that three of the COP’s candidates in the local government election were ineligible.
Seepersad-Bachan said contrary to what was being said by the Opposition party, all candidates contesting the five corporations in the local government election on a COP ticket were members of the COP. She was speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Prime Minister’s St Clair office.
The PNM is contending that three of the candidates running on the COP ticket for the Tunapuna/Piarco Corporation are members of the United National Congress (UNC).
Seepersad-Bachan said she found the Opposition’s position curious because in the 2010 General Election, National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) leader Makandal Daaga contested Laventille West under the COP symbol, and Errol McLeod, then Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader, contested Pointe-a-Pierre under the UNC banner.
“So I am rather curious as to how this matter is raising itself. (However) I do want to say that all members running under the COP symbol are members of the Congress of the People.... So contrary to what is being said and the questions being raised, the three candidates (in the Tunapuna/Piarco Corporation) are all members of the COP,” she said.
Seepersad-Bachan also took issue with statements by Jack Warner that the People’s Partnership had conceded defeat because it had chosen a “cubbyhole”—Harris Promenade—to launch its candidates. She said as a San Fernandian, she took objection to Warner’s description of Harris Promenade. She said it was a place of heritage.
Speaking at a public meeting in Sangre Grande on Wednesday, Rowley said the PNM is talking to its lawyers over the eligibility of some of the candidates of the People’s Partnership.
Rowley said the Government changed the municipal corporation law to increase the number of aldermen on each council to four. He said the winning party would get the first two aldermen. He said the UNC and COP accommodation was an attempt to get the other two aldermen.
“But in doing so, they have run afoul of the law.... They now put up UNC candidates under COP banner, in contravention of the requirement of the law ROP where you have to be a member of the party. You have not heard the end of that yet. We are talking to our lawyers,” he said.
“Everywhere they have done that, we will challenge them. They must begin to obey the laws of this country,” he said.
Rowley said the PNM took weeks and months to examine its nominees to come up with its candidates. He said other parties did not do this.
Turning to the Independent Liberal Party (ILP), Rowley said, “And that is why you can read that a man who offering himself in a political party to represent decent, law-abiding persons finds himself being arrested for illegal firearms and ammunition, in a country where crime is the number one problem. But don’t be surprised by that. It fits in with the present conversation,” he said.
He said if Jack Warner could say he is driving corruption away from the country, the gunman with the arms could say he is okay in that party.
Noting the Prime Minister was trying to link him to Warner as she urged people to vote for her party, Rowley said it was he (Rowley) who objected “from the very first day” to Warner’s appointment as a Cabinet minister while the Prime Minister defended Warner and did so for years.
“Tonight, I am ashamed of the Prime Minister, and I ask her to show me one action of mine that you can sanely interpret as having some kind of relationship with Jack Warner,” Rowley said.
Rowley said the Prime Minister had made bad appointments to the Cabinet. He said former national security minister now Minister of Justice Emmanuel George was the record-holder for having held the most portfolios in the shortest period of time.
“And the person who is making those appointments is still telling you that she is royal,” he said.
“If you are making such terrible mistakes at appointing Cabinet ministers, failing so miserably, you could imagine what they doing with councillors?” he said.
“We will take them out in the East; we will take them out in the West, in the North, in the South, as we did in Tobago,” he said.