Don’t leave us out
COP appeals to Debates Commission:
Carla Bridglal firstname.lastname@example.org
The Congress of the People (COP) has criticised what it says is “an arbitrary decision” by the Trinidad and Tobago Debates Commission (TTDC) to exclude the party from the local government elections debates scheduled for October 10 and 15.
In a release yesterday, the party said its officials “blasted the TTDC’s edict” and the commissioners’ reasoning and asked them to reconsider their “misguided decision”.
“The COP enters the 2013 local government elections having had 25 incumbents, including two mayors…while the Independent Liberal Party and Movement for Social Justice, which are included in the debates, have no incumbents,” wrote COP general secretary Clyde Weatherhead to the Commission.
“In light of the foregoing, (the party) makes a formal request to be included (individually) in the debates,” Weatherhead added.
COP political leader Prakash Ramadhar, the release said, noted that if the TTDC ruling is allowed to stand, thousands of citizens will be effectively disenfranchised from the key public dialogue that the debates represent.
“To allow a political party that received zero votes in the last round of local government elections to participate in this debate, whilst excluding a party that received thousands, would defeat the very purpose of the debates and undermine the legitimacy of the election. The COP is a long-standing independent political party that has successfully elected dozens of officials to posts at all levels of Government. To arbitrarily block (the party) would be tantamount to silencing the voices of the thousands of people who elected them,” Ramadhar said.
The commission, however, responded by saying “nothing could be further from the truth”.
In a telephone interview, TTDC chairman Andrew Sabga said the commission had met with the COP to give them its criteria for participation.
Parties are required to have nominated candidates contesting 75 per cent of municipalities, or more than ten out of the 14, and the commission would use its discretion to determine if a party falling short of this could be included if it feels that party’s participation is a matter of national interest.
The Movement for Social Justice, which will be fielding candidates in about 50 per cent of municipalities, has on that basis been allowed to participate.
“We felt the COP falls under the People’s Partnership coalition...in the areas where it will be contesting, there will not be another coalition party represented. On that basis and in discussions with (the Partnership members including the COP), parties will be represented as the People’s Partnership. The (COP) is seen as a member of the People’s Partnership coalition and they have agreed to that,” Sabga said.
He said the commission had received a request from the COP requesting they be included as an individual party and the commissioners will have to meet (today) to discuss an outcome.