Wednesday, October 16, 2013

PM will debate anyone "any time, any place"

File - Kamla and Prakash - leaders of the PP coalition
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told reporters on Tuesday she is willing to “debate anyone, anyplace, anytime, anywhere” and insisted that her decision not to participate in a television debate was based on principle.

Persad-Bissessar was invited along with other political leaders to debate on Tuesday night issues relating to the Local Government Election. The Debates Commission cancelled the event after Persad-Bissessar nominated Congress of the People Leader Prakash Ramadhar to represent the People's Partnership.

The Commission said that was against the established rules.

However, Persad-Bissessar said she had informed catherine Kumar of the Commission since October 8 that she would not attend and that Ramadhar would be her delgate. 

The Commission had refused to allow COP to participate in the debate claiming that it was part of the governing coalition. However it allowed the Movement for Social Justice, which is running 16 candidates in the election, to take part.

Persad-Bissessar said that was discriminatory since each member of the Partnership is a legitimate party in its own right. She also pointed out that there was and continues to be a political alliance between the MSJ and the PNM through the Round Table that was formed to protest the Section 34 matter.

She said if the reason for leaving out COP is because it is a part of an alliance then the same rule applies to the MSJ. On Tuesday she stood by her decision.

"I stand by my decision with respect to that. For a general election, of course, I will be the one engaging in a debate with any other leader for a general election. Given this local election, given what has happened with the COP, I stand by the decision that I took,” Persad-Bissessar said.

“I will debate anyone, anytime, anyplace, anywhere, I have no fear of a debate. I have a lot to speak of that we’ve done and that we plan to do, but in these circumstances I believe it was unfair to the COP to proceed in that manner. The Debates Commission could have reconsidered their decision and allow the COP to participate.”

Kumar has not responded to the PM statement that she was told on October 8 that Persad-Bissessar would not attend. However, the chairman of the Commision, Ronald Harford is quoted in the Express that the PM did not make such a confirmation.

Speaking at a political meeting in Fyzabad about the matter on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar said, “It is now being put out that I opted out of the debate. That I went back on my word and decided not to participate in the debate. That is not true. Nothing is further from the truth." 

She added, "In the first place when the e-mails came from the debates commission to members of my staff, I personally answered the e-mail indicating that Dr Suruj Rambachan would represent us in the first debate and that Mr Prakash Ramadhar would represent us in the second debate.”
Persad-Bissessar said: “The correspondence came back and this was way back last week, and they said no, that they would like me to come as the leader of the Partnership. 

"On the same e-mail I replied and said, Mr Ramadhar is a leader in the Partnership, a partnership of several parties and therefore he should represent us. Today I am reading Kamla drops out of it or opts out, when they knew all along that there was no commitment ever that I would be the person to represent the Partnership”.

Persad-Bissessar said, "In equity and in fairness, I think it was unfair to the COP contesting seats in the local government elections holding seats in the Parliament and therefore I held to my view that Mr Ramadhar was well qualified as a leader in the Partnership and also as a senior Cabinet minister to represent the Partnership in the debate.”

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai