NEWLY-ELECTED leader of the Congress of the People Prakash Ramadhar yesterday promised a revived and streamlined party that will operate more tightly as a unit.
Ramadhar, the Legal Affairs Minister in the ruling People's Partnership, delivered his victory speech around 8.15 p.m. at Gaston Court, Chaguanas, after gaining 3,338 votes in yesterday's internal leadership election.
His closest competitor was Sport Minister Anil Roberts, with 1,026 votes. The other candidates, COP vice-chairman Vernon De Lima and pharmacist and ordinary member Nalini Dial received 675 and 45 votes, respectively.
Ramadhar said the membership and the nation can look forward to changes in the party under his stewardship but nothing will be done without proper consultation.
One change that will fall into place automatically, he said, is the manner in which information coming out of the party will be disseminated.
Remarks from members will be streamed through approved channels to avoid conflict and confusion on issues.
Business begins immediately, he said, starting with an executive meeting today, when these changes and party activities to build and motivate the membership will be discussed.
"A number of new initiatives will be discussed, including a patriotic initiative," Ramadhar said, adding that he does not believe a political leader should take any action without consultation.
He will also disclose new appointments in the party tomorrow.
"I will be announcing my choice of deputies after I have met with the national executive," he said.
Asked to hint at his choices, Ramadhar refused, and said this was an example of how information will be handled from now on, as those names will be declared properly by him tomorrow.
Saying he believes the road ahead will be turbulent, as the party's brand of politics will likely be resisted, Ramadhar said despite the furious debates of the past few weeks leading up to the election, party members will stick together.
Ramadhar felt his success at the polls was due in part to the way he has lived his life and the sacrifices he has made since his youth.
"I have been given this opportunity because I took the long road," Ramadhar said.
His former contenders last night pledged to stand behind their new leader, with De Lima and Roberts showing good sportsmanship in their concessions speeches.
"I loved every minute of it," De Lima said of the campaign period, later pledging his love and allegiance to his former competitors.
Adding that the party's work will now begin in earnest, De Lima said, "I can assure you that I will be rowing my end of the boat."
Roberts said he is prepared to give "one hundred per cent" to his new leader.
Dial also promised her support.
Former leader Finance Minister Winston Dookeran was not present, as he was set to greet Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at Piarco International Airport on her return from the Caricom Summit in St Kitts and Nevis.
COP elections commission chairman Vallence Rambharat said all went well, for the most part, yesterday, with traffic causing some hiccups for voters in the west.
Two large events in Chaguaramas, the Red Bull Flugtag and St Peter's Day celebrations, caused traffic pile-ups that affected some voters from Diego Martin and Diamond Vale. Rambharat said he received a request to extend voting hours in that area, but declined.
Some 76 persons were also turned away at the polls due to their names not being listed.
Rambharat said he was pleased, though, with the turnout of around 5,200 voters and considered the exercise a success. • See Page 4