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Four to vie for COP leadership

By Anna Ramdass

The Congress of the People (COP) leadership election will be a heated one with four persons vying for the position on June 29.

Three of them sit in Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s Cabinet.

They are incumbent Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar, Public Administration Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Multiculturalism Minister Lincoln Douglas. The fourth person is retired staff sergeant Rufus Foster.

Ramadhar announced his decision to fight for re-election last weekend.

Seepersad-Bachan, who is also the COP chairman, issued a statement yesterday signalling her decision to contest as well as Foster.

Douglas held a news conference at the COP Flagship house, St Clair to announce his decision. COP founding father Winston Dookeran has endorsed Seepersad-Bachan for the position. 

In her statement yesterday, Seepersad-Bachan stated that she has been discussing the matter with her family, close friends and party members and she was thankful and encouraged by the overwhelming support received.

“I have prayed and sought guidance on this very important life decision. It is with great humility that I now announce my decision to contest the position of political leader of the Congress of the People (COP),” she stated.

Seepersad-Bachan  will file her nomination papers at 12.30 p.m. at the COP Operations Centre, Charlieville.

Douglas, the MP for Lopinot/Bon Air West said yesterday that he too was encouraged by people all over the country to throw his hat in the election ring. He said a lot of people have asked him why he decided to contest and he responded that he wanted to build the party.

Questioned on the possibility of the COP breaking away from the People’s Partnership, Douglas said coalition politics was important to this country.

“At present this is the vehicle that we have, this is what we rode into town on and probably what we have to ride out on and so I don’t have a problem with coalition politics. I think it’s the order of the day and I think it’s what will make this nation stronger,” he said.

He said however added that there was a need for more understanding of coalition politics and how members could work together.

Douglas said Ramadhar has served the COP well but there was need for a new phase of leadership.

Foster, the COP chairman of the Arouca/Maloney constituency, in his statement indicated that he was tired of the party’s poor leadership which was why he was vying for the position.

“I am very disappointed with the poor and weak leadership of Mr Prakash Ramadhar, that I now feel compelled to challenge his incumbency,” he stated.

“I still believe that the COP party with its vision and mission has a lot to contribute to Trinidad and Tobago and I am not prepared to sit back and allow the dreams and aspirations of thousands of our members to disappear into the wind because of the weak and poor leadership shown by the present leader,” he added.

All four candidates will today file their nomination papers at the COP Operations Centre, Charlieville. 

In 2011 there was also a four person race for the COP leadership- Prakash Ramadhar had battled with Sport Minister Anil Roberts, then COP vice chairman Vernon De Lima and COP member Nalini Dial.

Just over 5,000 persons came out to vote.

Ramadhar won with 3,338 votes, Roberts got 1026 while De Lima and Dial received 675 and 45 respectively. 

In the 2007 general elections some 148,000 people voted for the COP. 

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