Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Protesters against run-off

COP meeting stormed...

PROTESTERS last night stormed a meeting on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 hosted by Congress of the People (COP) Women’s Arm bearing placards labelling the party’s political leader Prakash Ramadhar “the betrayer”.

The meeting was held at the Himalaya Club in Barataria yesterday.

The meeting was chaired by Clyde Weatherhead and consisted of pollster Nigel Henry, university lecturer Dr Indira Rampersad, political consultant Peter Wickham from Barbados and journalist, Express columnist, Sunity Maharaj.

Henry said the run-off proposal in the bill would allow the COP a potential second life.

“This allows the COP the opportunity to potentially have a second life, sink or swim rather than face what the polls are saying are a certain death,” Henry said.

Rampersad said in the 2007 general election the COP secured 148,000 votes but “that vote was really worth nothing in terms of governance you all had no say in terms of governance”.

“This (run-off) is going to give you an opportunity to have a second bite of pie,” Rampersad.

Rampersad said Proportional Representation referred to by Winston Dookeran is not always the best formula and identified the hung Parliament in Guyana as evidence of this.

During the Lower House debate on the bill, Dookeran and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan voted against the bill.

Ramadhar voted in favour of the bill.

Wickham said he had been in the country for only 24 hours and said it was “unfortunate” the issue of Constitution reform was being politicised.

“It seems as though Trinidad and Tobago has surrendered the opportunity to have an adult conversation on Constitution change and that has been sacrificed on the altar of political considerations that people seem to have and I do feel it is unfortunate because on the face of it the proposals seem to be good, the proposals are necessary,” Wickham said.

Around 7.20 p.m. while Wickham was talking, a group of placard-bearing protesters entered the meeting and stood behind the audience. There were four protesters. 

They held placards stating “run-off a dagger in the heart of the COP”, “Prakash the Betrayer” and “Senators ‘do so’ to the Run Off”. The protest group was lead by Rudolph Hanamji.

The Senate is expected to debate the bill today.

Maharaj said she had so much to disagree with the rest of the panel over. She got applause from the 30-member crowd on hand.

“How can you talk about the COP having power when this bill was not even discussed with the COP when it was voted on,” Maharaj said.

“For all I see the COP’s leader has gone rogue because you cannot explain Prakash Ramadhar’s vote for this bill and his support for it on the basis of the conscience vote,”she said.

Maharaj said the conscience vote did not release Ramadhar from the instructions the party gave him.