THA dissolved, elections due Jan 25
By KARL E CUPIDTobago Bureau Friday, October 26 2012
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Meet the media: THA Chief Secretary Orville London answers questions from reporters after announcing the dissolution of the Assembly during its final ...
The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has been dissolved making way for the THA Election in late January – tipped to be held on January 25.
The dissolution, which comes three months shy of the Assembly’s four-year term and which takes effect today, was activated following a formal motion to that effect by THA Chief Secretary, Orville London, at the close of yesterday’s regular monthly plenary sitting of the House at the Assembly in Scarborough, in accordance with Section 22 (1) of the THA Act No 40 of 1996. The motion was unanimously approved.
According to Section 22, the election must be held not earlier than two months, or later than three months, after the dissolution of the Assembly.
In moving the motion, London, on behalf of the House, thanked the Presiding Officer, Ann Mitchell-Gift, staff of the Assembly Legislature, members of the media, and the THA membership, for their services during the term.
He noted that in keeping with the provision of Section 22, the Chief Secretary would advise the President of a date for the election, which in turn would be pronounced by the President. “And I want to advise Tobago, and the public, that the date has never been disputed by any Prime Minister, that the President would normally inform, or recommend to the Prime Minister, and every Prime Minister to date has accepted the recommendation coming from the Chief Secretary. I hope that that obtains at that particular level,” London told the House. He added, “Madam Presiding Officer, I am aware that many of the members will not be returning to the House, some by their own choice, and others by the choice of the electorate; I just want to wish everybody, the best. And on a serious note”, he asserted, “I know that the campaign leading up to this election is going to be extremely intense; it would be the most intense in the politics of Tobago. And I am urging all of us that we do not allow our platform behaviour to descend to the level that is evident in certain political meetings in recent times,” London stressed.
He gave the “commitment” that the PNM will continue to function with dignity on the political hustings. In turn, THA Minority Leader and political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), Ashworth Jack also joined London in thanking the Assembly Legislature staff, media, and members of the House for their contribution during the term. He, too, gave the assurance that the TOP platform would be focusing on issues rather than personality. “I want to assure all of Tobago that the issues raised by the TOP on the hustings would be more on policy, and not personal,” Jack told the House. For her part, Presiding Officer Mitchell-Gift thanked all for their contribution to the functioning of the House over the period. She also appealed, with the election campaign ahead, “we would do nothing, so that we would have to hang our heads in shame. May the best team find itself back in the House,” said Mitchell-Gift.
Speaking to the media later, London, who is also PNM deputy political leader (Tobago Affairs), on the question of the party’s chances of victory in the election, said: “I believe, based on all the reports, that our chances are extremely good; and I think that we are going to be working very hard; we are not going to be relaxing. I think this is a campaign where you got to talk to the people in language that they can understand, about issues that are important to them, and we intend to do just that,” he asserted.
On the question of him contesting the election in another electoral district rather than Scarborough/Calder Hall which he now represents, as has been rumoured, London replied, “Well, let me just say two things about that. We have a process in the PNM, and it would be presumptuous of me to say whether I am going up for any seat at all. But what I know, is that once I am going, or standing for a seat, the seat would be Scarborough/Calder Hall, I have no intention to go anywhere else; anytime I leave Scarborough/Calder Hall is to go to my wife in Signal Hill,” he quipped. London added once he was selected as a candidate he had an “excellent chance of returning” to the House. With respect to the dissolution of the THA three months before the end of the four-year term, London noted it has always been a “tradition” of the THA Election being held in January and he saw no reason to break with that tradition. He said the PNM was more “ready” for the election than it has ever been. “I think our chances this time are as good as any other time that we would have won,” London asserted.
TOP leader Jack, for his part, told reporters now that the House has been dissolved, it was now a question of “going out and accounting to the population. I would think that once the election is called, basically, it is a matter of reporting to the population”, said Jack. “And in the case of the present administration, they have been there for three terms, and spent just over $20 to $22 billion, and I am quite sure it would be interesting to hear what we would have achieved for 20 to $22 billion.
He said the TOP’s focus would be on “what the alternative should be, and what we will be doing once given the opportunity.”
On the question of the TOP’s chances of a victory in the election, Jack replied, “Well, I am the leader of the TOP, and I think sometimes you ask some questions that you expect to get a pre-set answer. My answer to that would be, ‘the population will decide.’ As the leader of the TOP, I only have one answer for that; that we fancy our chances very, very well, but of course at the end of it, that is a matter for the population to answer,” he stressed.