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Coudray to sue her critics
San Fernando mayor Marlene Coudray is getting ready to take on her detractors whom she has accused of making slanderous statements against her. Coudray, who fought and won a legal battle over her transfer when she was the CEO of the San Fernando City Corporation against former prime minister Patrick Manning, said she was seeking legal redress.
Now one of three deputy political leaders of the United National Congress (UNC), Coudray said she was compiling documents and the matter was in the hands of her lawyer. She has been in the middle of a controversy between the main partners of the People’s Partnership coalition Government since shifting her allegiance from the Congress of the People (COP) to the UNC.
She has also had to contend with opposition from several councillors in the San Fernando City Corporation, which she heads. The squabbles between her and the deputy mayor, Dr Navi Muradali, have been public and she also has shared a contentious relationship with the councillor for Cocoyea/ Tarouba, Darren McLeod.
The COP, to which she was previously aligned, and some other councillors want her out. Councillors have made several failed attempts to move a vote of no confidence in her as mayor. McLeod tendered his resignation last week as a member of the UNC, citing, among other reasons, a lack of support from the Coudray-led city corporation in his efforts to serve his electoral district.
However, he has opted to keep his seat as an independent councillor. The tension among elected members and the mayor came to a head at last Thursday’s statutory meeting when it was aborted for the third time in as many months. McLeod and Muradali have accused Coudray of deliberately ending the meetings prematurely to avoid the passage of a no-confidence motion against her.
“The council is intent on passing the motion of no confidence against her,” said McLeod, “but according to the constitution that cannot be done after the 24th statutory meeting. “We have three more meetings before we reach that deadline. Last Thursday’s was the 21st meeting and I suspect she will continue to frustrate the next few meetings until we reach the 24th when the no-confidence motion cannot be passed,” he added.
Responding to the criticisms, Coudray said Muradali and McLeod had been trying to frustrate her but cautioned: “They should understand they cannot put pressure on me. “The deputy mayor and the councillor have been on a crusade, in terms of disrupting the council and bringing the mayor and the office of mayor into disrepute by some of the utterances they have been making to the media, all of which are incorrect and untrue.
“They have continued on that course and it is unfortunate that the provisions in the Local Government Act cannot effectively deal with it but there is also the court one can go to for redress,” she said. She added: “They have been making very slanderous statements and the media have been printing it. What I have been doing over the past week is gathering all the newspaper clippings.
“I have written to the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago seeking the tape of certain media broadcasts. I have spoken to my attorney. It is a little lengthy but I am dealing with it,” the mayor said. She said she also has minutes from the council meetings to prove all of the accusations made against her by the two councillors are untrue. “I think it is malicious and mischievous,” she said.
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