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We agreed San Fernando mayorship would stay COP

Ramadhar:

By Renuka Singh

Congress of the People (COP) leader Prakash Ramadhar yesterday maintained there was a gentleman's agreement that the San Fernando mayorship of Marlene Coudray would remain with the COP under a People's Partnership government.

However, United National Congress (UNC) deputy political leader Roodal Moonilal yesterday said he could not recall such an arrangement.

"I don't know of any gentleman's agreement. But you cannot use the (Fyzabad) Accord to undermine the Constitution," Moonilal said in a telephone interview.

"I think the issue is that the pride of the COP was hurt more than anything at the move," he said.

Moonilal said Coudray, unlike other nominations, was a "consensus candidate" agreed to by both political camps.

"Coudray was not installed by the COP," he said, adding that for the two years of her mayorship, Coudray did not appear under the COP banner.

Anil Roberts, who contested the COP leadership post last year, yesterday called on Ramadhar to "revisit" the declaration.

"I am confused and I hope the media can explain to me what my leader has said. I cannot understand one iota of what he has said," Roberts said yesterday.

"Because Marlene Coudray chose to go somewhere else and his ego is bruised, the Government must collapse and we must bring back the PNM (People's National Movement)?" Roberts asked.

Roberts called on Ramadhar to reconsider and retract his ultimatum.

Roberts said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar cannot step in and change a mayor.

"So that ultimatum in itself makes absolutely no sense. If my leader is saying that a Prime Minister can change a mayor and therefore breach the law, that is not the principles of the Congress of the People," he said.

"It was written and signed without any Local Government election in mind. It was for general elections," he said.

He described the use of the Accord to retain the Mayorship under COP as "absolutely ludicrous" and suggested that his leader reads it.

"I don't see an issue of one human being choosing to join another party in a partnership being so major as to cause the fracture of a Government," he said, adding the growth in the economy and energy industry were among the accomplishments of the coalition.

Though he referred to Ramadhar as his "leader", he said Ramadhar did not speak for him. He said if Ramadhar decided to pull COP out of the partnership, he would have to throw him (Roberts) out.

"I not going anywhere, he could pull what he want. I am a COP elected member," he said.

"If he walks, he could walk, but he does not speak for me and I am a member of the Congress of the People," he said.

Roberts said he would walk away from the Partnership if the Cabinet said it was bringing back the smelter and the property tax, but would not "mash up" the party for this issue.

Roberts said while he continued to maintain an overall confidence in Ramadhar, he has "zero confidence" in this stand that he took.

"How come my leader did not walk when a former COP leader wanted to reintroduce the property tax against the advice of the Cabinet? I did not hear about him walking," he said.

He said Coudray's decision should force the party to look internally and fix the existing issues to prevent any other member from leaving.

"It is not that important in the scale of things. The amount of problems we have to study in this country, to study if Marlene Coudray want to go UNC? So what?" he said.

Commenting on Roberts's statements, COP chairman Joseph Toney said last night: "As we approach Holy Week, many Judases will surface. Jesus Christ had his so he (Ramadhar) shouldn't expect anything less."

—Renuka Singh

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