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COP to complete selection by week’s end

Published: 
Monday, July 20, 2015
Election Central 2015
Outgoing MP for Lopinot/ Bon Air, Dr Lincoln Douglas arrives with supporters for screening at the Congress of the People’s Operations Centre, Charlieville, yesterday. Photo: ABRAHAM DIAZ

The Congress of the People (COP) intend to wrap up their screening of candidates for the September 7 general election by the end of this week. Party chairman Jamison Bahadur said yesterday that so far 45 people have been evaluated among the 80-plus nominees.

Yesterday, 15 nominees were screened at the party’s Operations Centre in Chaguanas for five seats. Bahadur said only when they have completed the screening process the party will decide on who will be chosen as candidates and negotiate with the United National Congress (UNC) for other seats. He said the COP has an agreement with the UNC that the six seats the COP won in the 2010 election will remain with the party. These seats are Tunapuna, St Augustine, Lopinot/Bon Air, D’Abadie/O’Meara, Arima and San Fernando West.

Minister of Trade and Investment Vasant Bharath, of the UNC, has hinted that he may contest the Tunapuna seat, but that announcement is yet to be made. The party’s founder, outgoing Tunapuna MP Winston Dookeran and outgoing San Fernando West MP Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, have both bowed out of the election race. They had been at odds with the party’s political leader Prakash Ramadhar, who faced the screening committee last week.

Bahadur said they are screening a large number of people to find candidates who are suitable for the elections. He said aside from the six COP “safe seats,” the party will attempt to contest the constituencies currently held by People’s National Movement candidates. He said COP candidates have also expressed interest in contesting seats occupied by UNC candidates. Bahadur said after potental candidates have been chosen, the COP and the UNC will negotiate for the seats and the best suitable candidates would go up for the position. 

At the screening yesterday, scores of people from the Lopinot/Bon Air constituency came out with horns and even tassa drums  to support outgoing MP Dr Lincoln Douglas. Douglas said he was confident that he would win his seat, promising if given five more years he would create more programmes to help people in the area.

“We want to improve more of the institutions. We want to make sure that we have more fire services up, the public library up. For the Lopinot area, we want to make sure that we have a tourism centre,” Douglas said. He said he was confident that the COP will win four or five seats in the September 7 election.

“I think we had a very difficult challenge before us, the kind of party we have and the views that we hold, I would say in some sense some people are disappointed because there were extremely high hopes for the COP’s role in the terms of advancing those agendas. I would not hold people hard for saying they are disappointed because I too share some level of disappointment,” he said. 

He reaffirmed that the COP has contributed a lot to the country’s governance over the past five years and it will continue to.

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