COP Leader concerned about Local Government Reform Law and Elections

Political Leader of the Congress of the People (COP), Carolyn Seepersad Bachan, is keeping her cards close to her chest, with regard to the COP’s contesting of the upcoming local government elections.

Mrs Seepersad Bachan has hinted that the COP may be combining forces with other parties on the political landscape, but would not use the word coalition to describe the arrangement.

She says it is important to get the arrangements right, noting that under the People’s Partnership, the arrangement featured one dominant partner, and several small partners.

“We may not be ready at this point in time to go into a coalition,” she says. “It may just be an accommodation. These are issues that must be ironed out.”

She adds that discussions are ongoing with other emerging parties on the political landscape.

The COP leader says there are many issues of grave concern surrounding the elections themselves. She points to the fact that the much needed campaign finance reform has not materialised. And she also wants clarification on the issue of proposed local government reform law itself.

Mrs Seepersad-Bachan says it is not clear whether candidates would have to comply with it—especially the aspect of being full time employees in the local government system. She says they are opposed to that stipulation in the reform law.

According to the COP leader, the real solution to local government problems lies in dealing with non-functioning public officers.

“Like in the Public Service, the solution is not for a minister to take over the job of public officers,” she explains. “It is not the job of local government councillors to take over the job of the public officers. The solution is to fix that problem.”

She argues: “You are going to create more situations where you will have political influence in procurement processes and decision-making, which is only going to lead to further perception of corruption.”

Mrs Seepersad-Bachan says the COP currently has roughly 45,000 members and that figure is growing daily as more people join it, looking for a political alternative to the two main parties, namely the PNM and the UNC.

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