Monday, September 25, 2017

I CAN'T BE MUZZLED

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SERIES OF MEETINGS: Congress of the People political leader Prakash Ramadhar at his party's Flagship House in St Clair yesterday where the party's executive was meeting up to late last night. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

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"I cannot be muzzled."

This was the position of Congress of the People (COP) political leader Prakash Ramadhar yesterday in response to concerns by COP insiders that he had capitulated on the Marlene Coudray mayorship issue.

A smiling Ramadhar hustled into an emergency executive meeting at the party's Flagship House office in St Clair yesterday.

He did not say much to reporters but said he would speak more after he met with his group.

"I have been in one meeting after the next, so out of respect, I have to let them know what's happening," Ramadhar said.

Though Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar allayed fears of the COP leader's future in the coalition government on Wednesday when she said that no minister would be fired, COP insiders were still concerned yesterday about the fate of their party.

Based on what was said by Persad-Bissessar—that all Cabinet Ministers had affirmed their commitment to collective Cabinet responsibility—one COP insider, speaking under the condition of anonymity yesterday, expressed concern that Ramadhar did not abide by the COP's caucus decision taken at its meeting last Sunday.

That position was to insist on retaining the San Fernando mayorship which the party lost when mayor Marlene Coudray joined the United National Congress and became a deputy political leader of that party when it held its internal elections in May.

COP insiders say they were also afraid that Ramadhar was being "puppeted" and muzzled for taking such a strong stand against the Government on the Marlene Coudray issue but Ramadhar yesterday dismissed those allegations.

"I cannot be muzzled," he said.

Ramadhar was in a late night session with Cabinet after midnight Wednesday and attended another Cabinet meeting yesterday before meeting with his own party after 6 p.m.

He said the party would either call a press conference or issue a statement after yesterday's meeting was concluded.

But while Ramadhar's concession on the Coudray matter has created some agitation within his own party, Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah is hoping now the MSJ matters will come to the fore.

Speaking with reporters after the funeral of former Communication Workers Union (CWU) secretary general Lyle Townsend yesterday, Abdulah said the MSJ issues "were very much alive".

He said now that the Coudray matter was off the table, the MSJ matters would be finalised.

Abdulah had given the coalition government until May 24 to address concerns about the partnership.

He also confirmed last week's meeting with the COP and said another one was planned for early next week.