Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 6th 2014 Contents GEISHA KOWLESSAR
Deputy political leader of the
Congress of the People Lincoln Dou-
glas says the party s leader, Prakash
Ramadhar, is disappointed that he
is contesting the leadership post.
Douglas, MP for Lopinot/Bon Air
West, made the comment during a
press conference at the COP's Flag-
ship House, Woodbrook, Port-of-
He said he had decided to run for
the post as he had been encouraged
by many to do so.
Nomination Day for the election
of a COP leader and other positions
is today at the party's Operations
Centre, Charlieville. Elections are to
be held on June 29.
Douglas made it clear he remained
on good terms with Ramadhar and
they continued to enjoy a healthy
"Of course he is disappointed. We
are good friends and I am his loyal
deputy political leader still so I expect-
ed him to be disappointed and con-
cerned but we belong to the same
party, so it's all good," he said.
On Ramadhar's leadership skills,
Douglas said: "I think Mr Ramadhar
has led our party with the best of
intentions and the best of ability. I
think he has done a good job at a
difficult time when we were joining
a coalition and dealing with some of
the issues of the past.
"So far, I think he has brought the
party to the place where it is today
and I think the party needs to move
into a new phase."
Saying his candidacy was not about
Ramadhar, Douglas said there would
soon be a series of debates, cottage
meetings and presentations from can-
"But Mr Ramadhar is my friend,
he is my colleague, he is my political
leader and I respect him for what he
has done so far in building the party
and keeping it forward," Douglas reit-
On the party's founding leader
Winston Dookeran endorsing incum-
bent chairman Carolyn Seepersad-
Bachan for the post of leader, Douglas
said that signalled healthy politics,
adding he was happy that Dookeran
had "finally decided" to get involved
in the party.
"I am looking forward to his ongo-
ing participation. I personally would
be looking forward to his continued
involvement and to be able to tap
into his wisdom and his experience
over the years," Douglas added.
Friday, June 6, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Douglas as he enters COP leadership race:
Prakash upset I'm running
Retired Staff Sergeant Rufus Fos-
ter has thrown his hat into the ring
for the leadership post of the Con-
gress of the People (COP).
In an interview yesterday, Foster,
56, said he made the decision based
on what he described as the "very
poor and weak leadership" of current
party leader Prakash Ramadhar.
After spending 27 years in the
Defence Force, he said, he joined the
party in 2006.
He is the father of three daughters
and lives in Maloney. He said he is
fluent in Spanish and is the vice-
president of the Pan American
Draughts and Checkers Federation.
He added: "My intention is to seri-
ously contest the leadership because
over the years party membership has
been dwindling, so much so that even
at a general council meeting we have
problems getting a quorum, which
is about 25 people.
"And people have been asking
whether the COP is relevant or not,
given the very weak leadership by
"People are saying if Mr Ramadhar
wins again they are going to leave
the party and this will only make it
weaker. Any other person besides
Ramadhar is a good choice."
On what new he would bring to
the party, Foster said it had to begin
with certain structures, especially
addressing the concerns of the poor
He added: "We have to remember
why we got into office in the first
place and we must never forget the
small man, the foot soldiers who
helped build the COP.
"My policy is to keep in touch with
the small man and to offer hope to
the hopeless because if you don't
keep in touch with people you are
going to lose them."
He also said a rejuvenation of the
party and a dynamic leader at the
helm, who could chart the way, were
"I want those who are bewildered
and disappointed to know there is
hope. If I can get those people to
come out to vote, I have a good
chance of being the political leader
of the COP," Foster said.
On Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan's
decision to run for leadership, Foster
said she seemed to be lacking that
"There is not much difference
between her and Mr Ramadhar," he
He said he would be filing his nom-
ination papers today at the COP's
Charlieville Operations Centre. (GK)
Congress of the People (COP)
chairman Carolyn Seepersad-
Bachan has announced that she
will run for the post of party
leader, making it a four-way elec-
In a statement yesterday, Seep-
ersad-Bachan said she would file
her nomination papers today at
COP's Operations Centre, Char-
"I am thankful and encouraged
by the overwhelming support I have
been receiving. I have prayed and
sought guidance on this very
important life decision. It is with
great humility that I now announce
my decision to contest the position
of political leader," Seepersad-
Asked what she planned to do
to revitalise the party, she said she
intended to meet with the COP
membership and have dialogue
before making further decisions.
She also reiterated she wanted a
Seepersad-Bachan has already
faced a barrage of insults on social
networking sites because of her
decision to run.
...Army retiree also in ring
Carolyn in; hopes for clean campaign
Political analyst Dr Winford James
said yesterday Seepersad-Bachan
must outline how she intended to
revitalise the COP.
He said founding leader Winston
Dookeran's endorsement of
Seepersad-Bachan had reflected
negatively on the incumbent,
"Prakash has behaved as if he is
more a member of UNC than COP.
He has been bending to Kamla and
not giving the sense that he is an
alternative Prime Minister. He does
not understand his role as a political
leader. He has made unnecessary
statements that suggest he is under
Kamla's thumb," James said.
He said the COP has also not
connected with the grassroots.
He added that the campaign
would have the same level of
mudslinging as other internal
elections but he had never
associated Seepersad-Bachan with
James said it was important to
know on what grounds Seepersad-
Bachan had decided to contest and
that another candidate, Dr Lincoln
Douglas, was "an unknown" in the
political arena who had never spoken
out on public issues.
"He has been quiet on all issues so
the public does not have a sense
that he can lead anything.
"He is an accomplished
professional. He has some skills and
talents that he can bring to win
people from within the party but he
is unknown where the wider public
is concerned," James said.
Another analyst, Dr Mukesh
Basdeo, predicted the elections
would be an open race and
"We have to wait now and see
whether the candidates plan to put
up slates," Basdeo said.
He added that it would be
interesting to see whether Douglas
and Ramadhar also put up other
Asked whether Seepersad-Bachan
was capable of revitalising the COP,
Basdeo said it was too early to say.
"That will be tested in this election
and we will see whether she has the
charisma," he added.
Basdeo also said since the general
election was less than 12 months
away, it remained to be seen how
the COP would transform.
CAN THEY BRING CHANGE?
VOTE FOR ME BECAUSE...
ON THE STATE OF THE COP
On what he could bring to the COP
to take the party into a new phase,
Douglas said he had an analysis of the
culture and the people and also has
the capacity to work with various
He said one of the major issues
which had plagued political parties, and
in particular the COP, was the inability
to create cohesion among different
"I can bring varying groups of people
together around a common vision for
the betterment of our country and
mobilise people to execute a plan of
"No matter how good your plans are,
if these plans are not executed by
capable people, they will be unable to
bring the kind of meaningful lifestyle
we are recommending," Douglas added.
On whether he believed the COP was
weak within the coalition government,
Douglas described the COP as the
"lesser party" within the coalition,
particularly in terms of numbers.
"But contrary to what a lot of people
may think, we have been holding a
strong line within the coalition.
"However, for a coalition itself to be
strong, the individual members of the
coalition themselves must be strong and
I think we definitely need to be stronger
and to take a stronger stance in
articulating, presenting and promoting
the positions of the COP," Douglas said.
Asked if he might decide to leave the
coalition if elected party leader, Douglas
said all things would be considered but
in the same breath he said he did not
have a problem with coalition politics as
it was the order of the day.
Responding to comments that the
COP was dead, Douglas denied that,
saying the party had made a significant
contribution to the People's Partnership
Government and its policies.
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