Congress of the People (COP) chairman Jameson Bahadur says former chairman Nicole Dyer-Griffith is a friend whom he’d like to see contribute to the party, but said that to let her stand now as a candidate for leadership will breach the party’s constitution and expose him to be sued by irate party members. He told Newsday that a meeting of the COP National Council on Sunday at the Operations Centre at Charlieville had set the election date as Sunday November 19, but alluded that she’s unlikely to be eligible to stand, as she must rejoin as a member for six-months before she can vie for position. The COP National Executive (Natex) meets next Monday on the matter.
Bahadur claimed that Dyer-Griffith had never properly undergone the process to apply to rejoin the party. He said she must present a letter from the Alliance of Independents (AOI) - the party she had founded upon leaving the COP - to now confirm her resignation from the AOI. She must then be interviewed by the National Executive and then wait a six month period as an ordinary member before she can qualify to stand for election. “She had held the party in disrepute publicly. We could forgive and forget that. I have no problem accepting her back. She could come back in the party and do something.”
Bahadur alleged that while Dyer-Griffith had obtained a membership card from a then top party official, it was not approved by the National Executive and so was invalid. (He alleged that the three former COP officials who recently resigned had not done so for any good reason but rather because they were allegedly in the wrong. He queried why he had not been invited to the meeting that had initially approved her readmission despite him being chairman since 2015.)
Bahadur said, “The Natex has set up a panel to listen to her, but we can’t set a bad precedent. The COP Constitution says you must be a member for six months (before vying for office).”
He said that while Dyer-Griffith is “a good person, with many strengths” and “my friend” he cannot violate the COP Constitution even proverbially for his wife. “People could sue me. I’d love for Nicole to come back in the party, but if you do wrong I can’t correct it.”
Bahadur said if the National Executive decides to re-admit her as a member and then to waive the six month period, they’d be setting a very bad precedent. Fearing exposure to a lawsuit, he quipped, “I have no court clothes and I have no money.” Bahadur recalled High Court judge Justice Ricky Rahim ruling that this case is not about Dyer-Griffith, but about the COP chairman and COP’s 42,000 members. Former chairman Anirudh Mahabir, former general secretary Clyde Weatherhead and former deputy leader Lorraine Pouchet all recently resigned their posts when faced with a lawsuit from a party member who challenged Dyer-Griffiths' eligibility. Newsday was yesterday unable to contact Dyer-Griffith.