MAJOR changes in the government last week have found favour with the Congress of the People (COP), with leader Prakash Ramadhar saying yesterday he now sees his party as having a stronger place in the coalition.
The COP may also be looking forward to the settlement of a contentious issue—the placement of a COP loyalist in the now-vacant seat of San Fernando mayor.
While Ramadhar did not commit to the COP's expectation that it will regain the mayorship, now open with the departure of former mayor, Marlene Coudray, to the Cabinet as Gender Minister, he has endorsed COP member and Deputy Mayor, Dr Navi Muradali.
Speaking before the start of a walkabout in San Juan, Ramadhar said the People's Partnership government is, itself, also stronger today.
Ramadhar's comments came on the heels of last Friday's Cabinet reshuffle, where Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced significant changes, with two government ministers getting the boot, splits in ministerial portfolios and some new faces in the Parliament.
Another political shake-up occurred last Sunday, when head of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), David Abdulah, announced his party's departure from the coalition, leaving four parties—the United National Congress (UNC), COP, the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) and the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC).
Joining Ramadhar on yesterday's walk was new Minister of Communications, Jamal Mohammed and Dr Lincoln Douglas, who has been elevated to Cabinet status as Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism.
Ramadhar expressed his pleasure with these additions to Cabinet as well as with the appointment of Ganga Singh, a former public utilities minister under the UNC government, as Minister of the Environment and Water Resources.
Ramadhar said these additions were an asset to the government.
Commenting on the appointment of former works minister, Jack Warner, to the position of National Security Minister, Ramadhar said he wished Warner well in the war on crime.