(Trinidad Guardian) Chairman of the United National Congress (UNC) Jack Warner was the lone Cabinet colleague who came out in defense of Congress of the People (COP) leader Prakash Ramadhar—ensuring he was not stripped of his ministerial portfolio. This was revealed to the Sunday Guardian by Cabinet sources and COP members.
And, while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has dismissed reports the meeting which was held last Wednesday at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s was held to discipline Ramadhar for his threat to adopt an independent position on policy issues, Cabinet sources and COP members have revealed otherwise.
According to insiders, Ramadhar was “spared the axe” following Warner’s advice to the Cabinet. Both Cabinet ministers had crossed paths last year after Ramadhar had publicly called for Warner to step down following the Federation International Football Association bribery scandal. But it was Warner who came out in his defense last week.
“Mr Warner’s position was quite clear that if the COP leader is fired the COP would gain immense support,” the Cabinet source revealed. Warner, the source said, indicated it was a bad political move and he would not be part of it. Warner, when contacted on Friday, was tight-lipped about the role he played in quelling the contentious issue. He refused to comment.
The controversy continues to rage within the People’s Partnership (PP) Government following the decision by San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray to switch political allegiances. An outspoken former COP deputy political leader, Robert Mayers, confirmed to Sunday Guardian that Ramadhar was expected to be sacked.
“Yes, he was supposed to be fired but it was Mr Warner who said otherwise. Mr Warner understands the bigger picture. He was supposed to be terminated but Mr Warner advised otherwise,” Mayers said. Insiders told Sunday Guardian that Ramadhar was prepared to resign his Cabinet position following his return from Florida but was persuaded not to do so after discussions with two party members—Roy Augustus and Joseph Toney.
“He was told not to resign. If you get fired you would be respected for what you believe in,” was what he was told, a party source revealed. In an unexpected move following the emergency Cabinet meeting, Ramadhar at a press conference on May 5 announced that the COP would continue to bear collective Cabinet responsibility in spite of its position taken regarding the San Fernando mayor.
COP executive split
Sunday Guardian understands the decision by Ramadhar to announce that the COP was prepared to continue to bear collective Cabinet responsibility with the PP has now caused a “spilt” in the executive, with some members distancing themselves from Ramadhar.
This after some members are claiming that Ramadhar has diverted from the position taken at the party’s last national council meeting held on April 29. The following were discussed:
• UNC breached the agreement—UNC must fix it;
• COP must not leave the PP because the UNC has breached the agreement;
• COP must accept no alternative compensation for the breach of the agreement by the UNC;
• In the meantime and until this matter is resolved the COP reserves the right to revisit our relationship with all the units that form the PP;
• The COP re-asserts its right to take an independent position on policy issues of the day;
• Board and Cabinet appointments must be done in consultation with government and the duly elected political leader of the COP.