Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 7th 2014 Contents PRAKASH RAMADHAR
Saturday, June 7, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The battle for leadership of the
Congress of the People (COP)
took on the tone of a general elec-
tion campaign at the party s
Charlieville Operations Centre
yesterday, as four candidates filed
their nomination papers.
Shouting bands of placard-
bearing supporters followed two
candidates, party chair Carolyn
Seepersad-Bachan and deputy
leader Dr Lincoln Douglas, upstairs
into the office.
Incumbent leader Prakash
Ramadhar had perhaps the qui-
etest entry. Rufus Adolphus Foster,
talking tough, went with only two
people, who said not a word.
The three challengers expressed
dissatisfaction with the present
The COP is one of five parties
in the People s Partnership coali-
Its June 29 leadership elections
come in the midst of complaints
about Ramadhar s leadership style
and speculation over whether the
COP will remain with the part-
nership government or pull out.
Ramadhar won the 2011 internal
elections against candidates Ver-
non de Lima, Nalini Dial and Anil
The party shot into the limelight
recently when the national exec-
utive decided to suspend exec-
utive member and Sport Minister
Anil Roberts, over the controver-
sial "ganja video" which shows a
man resembling a government
minister rolling a substance
believed to be marijuana in a cig-
arette with two women in a hotel
COP battle lines drawn
Air of general election at nomination day
Multi-culturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas symbolically tosses his hat into the proverbial political ring for leadership of the Congress of the People
(COP) yesterday, during the nomination exercise. Douglas was among four members who filed nomination papers at COP's Operations Centre, Chaguanas,
to contest the June 29 internal elections for a new leader. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
BIG SUPPORT FOR DOUGLAS
Shouting, "The man to take us
to victory!" a band of about 20
placard-bearing supporters of COP
deputy leader Douglas, from his
constituency of Lopinot/Bon Air
West, went up the stairs of the
COP's office around 11.30 am.
"The man to take the COP, who
they saying is dead, to take us to
victory," bellowed Carmalitta
McGuirk, the chief shouter.
They all wore jerseys with
Douglas's face printed on them
with the words, "We party, We
MP, We leader."
Two women opened a banner
that stretched over a good part of
the width of the office.
"If we had a bigger area we
would have brought about 200 or
300 people," one said.
McGuirk, a COP field officer,
said, "People on the ground saying
the COP dead. We need someone
with a strong voice that will be
heard in the Partnership.
"Carolyn is a good woman but I
don't think she has the voice to
take us to victory.
"Prakash is also a good man but
people are saying the COP is dead
because we have a weak leader."
Douglas said the COP was
looking for a good leader and if he
won he would show what that
was all about.
"The kind of leader that is
required is someone with the
ability to bring disparate groups
together and negotiate," he said
on the role of a party in a coalition
structure. "That's what I think is a
priority right now."
IT TO VOTERS
Incumbent leader Prakash
Ramadhar said it was the
electorate that had to decide
whether it wanted a leader who
was diplomatic, wise, cool-
headed and restrained, or
acrimonious and quarrelsome.
The temperament of a leader
was critically important, said
Ramadhar, who was
accompanied by his wife to file
his nomination papers.
A good leader must be able to
play on any field, rise to any
occasion and give the right dose
of medicine at the right time.
Ramadhar said he had been
enduring short-term pain for
long-term gain. Dismissing
criticism of his leadership style,
he said it was a very loud but
small group which felt the COP
should break free from the
Partnership and go into pristine
He said he was not
disappointed that three
candidates were running against
him, but looked forward to a
healthy debate, and expected and
intended to win the election.
DR LINCOLN DOUGLAS
CAROLYN WANTS PARTY
A small group of Seepersad-
Bachan supporters assembled at
the front of Central Bar and Roti
Shop around 12.40 pm, opposite
the COP office, and handed out
jerseys with her face printed on
them from a pile on a table.
A flurry of excitement filled the
office which was not evident at
the arrival of the other
A man waltzed in singing, "We
going and elect the Carolyn."
A voice shouted from
downstairs, "She reach!" followed
by a burst of chanting.
"Who endorse Carolyn?
A flash of shocking pink then
appeared at the top of the stairs
and a smiling Seepersad-Bachan
emerged, holding her husband
After she filed her nomination
papers, with senior party
members Wendell Eversley and
attorney Kevin Rattiram hovering
nearby, she told the media she
was humbled by the enthusiasm
shown for her. She said her
campaign for leadership begins
Seepersad-Bachan said she
intended to restore the COP's
"Sometimes people feel we are
too idealistic, but I beg to differ. I
am going to stand firmly by
She said this was not about
"Carolyn," but about team
leadership, adding, "I am not a
Echoing Ramadhar's earlier
statement, she said strong
partners will make a strong
"Coalition governance is here to
stay and I intend to make the
COP strong again."
Supporter Azim Gulab then
gave the media copies of her six-
page plan for the devolution of
Rufus Foster, a member since
2006 and chairman of the
said the leadership was in a
deplorable state and members
were bewildered and stressed out.
A retired Defence Force staff
sergeant, he said that's why he
threw his hat into the ring, and if
he were leader he would want all
options on the table, including
that of joining the PNM.
Foster handed out copies of his
biographical data, which said one
of the ways he sought to improve
the lives of people in the
constituency was through the
Draughts & Checkers Association,
of which he is president and CEO.
He is also vice-president of the
Pan American Draughts and
Foster said he speaks Spanish
fluently, had just returned from
vacation in Spain, and found
himself unable to bear the
thought of Ramadhar leading the
COP for another term.
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