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COP party problems

regionaltroubleincopPORT OF SPAIN — Congress of the People Member of Parliament for Arima, Rodger Samuel, has signalled his intention to resign from the party, which is a member of the ruling People’s Partnership coalition.

There is also a motion to remove political leader Prakash Ramadhar.

Samuel, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, announced his intention at yesterday’s national council meeting at COP’s Operation Centre, Charlieville, and was met with strong opposition from the national executive.

Though no mention of that development was made at the post-meeting media briefing, a visibly upset Samuel was seen at the meeting and spoke briefly with the Express.

“It is something I am considering,” Samuel confirmed when asked whether he was tendering his resignation.

But while one source within the national executive seemed to think it was a done deal, another source said the party hierarchy was “continuing dialogue”, hoping to persuade him to change his mind.

“I don’t think he would, though, his mind seemed pretty made up,” one source said.

The source confirmed that Samuel had mentioned it at the council level meeting and cited internal problems with the United National Congress (UNC) chief among his reasons to resign.

“He believed that the COP was being sidelined by the UNC and not being treated well,” the source said.

The source said that sentiment was shared by many of the COP members and described yesterday’s meeting as “one of the worst” they have seen.

“It was getting loud and people started shouting, it was hard to control the members who were calling for the COP to walk (away from the Partnership).”

The source said party members were disenchanted with the UNC and were urging the COP executive to make a clean break and stand alone. The source also said there were several instances where the COP Government members were being sidelined and treated with scant courtesy by the UNC members.

The heated meeting also revealed that a motion was being circulated to remove Ramadhar as leader.

The five-point motion states, inter alia, that the membership had “lost confidence in the political leader to direct and control the party in a manner which is consistent with the philosophy, principles and directives of the People’s Charter”.

Several members said they intended to raise that at the next national executive meeting, but it was being blocked by party chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan.

“She knows how that would look to the nation and she obviously also knows that leadership elections is next year so she is asking them to wait. But she knows that she cannot stop that motion,” the source said.

In a short interview, Seepersad-Bachan would only speak on the Samuel issue and only to say that “dialogue is continuing”.

Leader of Government Business, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, said he was not aware that Samuel intended to resign. (Express)

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