|Two leaders of the partnership - Prakash Ramadhar and Kamla Persad-Bissessar|
In a media release the Partnership said it took this decision in order to give a voice to the COP and its leader since the Trinidad and Tobago Debates Commission, which has organised the debates, refused to allow COP to participate while allowing the Movement for Social Justice to be a participant.
It said, "The Partnership is of the view that the only way for us to redress this is by affording the COP a place in the debates out of respect for our coalition partner. The UNC had its turn last Thursday when one of the party’s Deputy Leaders, The Honourable Surujrattan Rambachan, MP, participated in the debate for senior party representatives.
"Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissesssar agrees with her cabinet colleague and former COP leader the Honourable Winston Dookeran, MP, that the COP should have been accorded a space in the debates. It is in that context that she agreed to forfeit her right in order to permit the leader of the COP to appear.
"The Debates Commission has said that it regards the PP as a coalition and therefore only one party can come to the debate. The PP has therefore decided to allow one of its leaders to take part in the debate on the following grounds:
- The COP is an independent party that is the second largest party in an alliance with the UNC, the TOP and NJAC
- The MSJ belongs to an alliance with the PNM called the Round Table and they have consistently shared platforms and public marches together in 2012 and in 2013 with their last joint public march being held a few months ago, yet the MSJ has been allowed to have a separate place at the forum while being in the Round Table Alliance with the PNM
- The PNM and the MSJ have never publicly stated that they are no longer in an alliance with each other and so they remain partners in the Round Table
- The Debates Commission has erroneously classified the PP as a political party when it is not
- The Debates Commission ought to have allowed the COP to debate like the MSJ and the PNM that are allies
- If the Debates Commission is serious about forging a new standard of democracy, it must understand the nature of political alliances and coalitions.
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