T&T coalition talks end again in failure

(Trinidad Express) Four leaders of the People’s Partnership coalition yesterday ducked the media after their third meeting failed yet again to resolve the problem of the San Fernando mayorship.

Following the first and second meetings, held on March 29 and April 2, respectively, Congress of the People (COP) political leader Prakash Ramadhar, Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) leader Ashworth Jack, Movement for Social Justice head David Abdulah and chief servant of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC), Makandal Daaga, had all walked out the gates of the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, and spoke to the media.

Yesterday, however, they dodged the media, not even exiting through the main entrance, but speeding away through the Prime Minister’s special driveway.

The leaders met just after noon yesterday and by 2 p.m. the meeting was adjourned as Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar left to board a helicopter which took her to Rio Claro, where Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner launched the new Programme for Upgrading Road Efficiency (PURE).

The Prime Minister waved and smiled to the media as she left the Diplomatic Centre.

But speaking to the media in Rio Claro later, Persad-Bissessar reiterated that she remains optimistic that there will be a resolution to the issue.

Persad-Bissessar said the San Fernando mayorship was not the only topic of discussions, but other issues as well.

She said the guiding principle among leaders would be “that we all put the greater good as foremost in our minds in making our decisions”.

“I intend to hold the Partnership together. At the same time I plan to ensure that the transparency and the integrity of the process is kept and at all times we maintain the trust and the faith of the electorate which voted for us, who gave us thousands of votes and who depended on us to carry out the mandate they gave us. I will do all that I can,” assured Persad-Bissessar.

On previous occasions while leaders Ramadhar, Daaga, Abdulah and Jack delivered statements to the media following their meetings, this time national security adviser to the Prime Minister Gary Griffith faced the media.

He said the meeting was adjourned as the Prime Minister had an engagement to attend and the meeting will reconvene at 9 a.m. today at the Prime Minister’s office, St Clair.

When pressed with questions, Griffith could not answer as he was not part of the meeting.

Asked what it meant that the leaders have not been able to come to a consensus on one matter, Griffith stated: “It shows there is a lot of dialogue, it means there is a lot of good communication going on and it is a clear sign that it is a Government that is actually working and working to establish any hiccup that might take place and arise and they are moving forward with it.”

Although the Prime Minister left, the other four leaders continued their talks.

Jack left at approximately 3.30 p.m while the others left at around 4.30 p.m. ignoring the large contingent of media personnel who were camped outside the Diplomatic Centre.

Ramadhar had assured the media on the previous two occasions that he would always be up-front with the country on the development but he ducked from doing so yesterday.

The leaders have been meeting in vain to date to try and resolve a complaint by Ramadhar that the San Fernando mayorship should be filled by a person who is a member of the COP.

Ramadhar said this was agreed upon prior to 2010 local government elections and was a matter of principle in keeping with the Fyzabad declaration.

The controversy erupted after San Fernando mayor Marlene Coudray was elected deputy political leader of the United National Congress in the party’s internal elections on March 24.

The issue of whether Coudray will stay or go is yet to be determined as the leaders will meet again for the fourth time today.

The weekly Cabinet meeting will follow this meeting.

The Prime Minister is expected to leave for Colombia at 5.50 p.m, today to attend the Summit of the Americas.


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