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PP ponders Tobago future

By NEWSDAY STAFF Wednesday, January 23 2013

click on pic to zoom in
TOP down: National Security Minister Jack Warner has a word with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar during a sitting of Parliament yesterday. Warne...
TOP down: National Security Minister Jack Warner has a word with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar during a sitting of Parliament yesterday. Warne...

THE members of the ruling People’s Partnership (PP) were split in their views on the defeat of coalition partner, Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) in last Monday’s Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections where the PNM won all 12 seats.

NJAC official, Ayegore Ome, had no comment to make on whether the PP should be concerned about the TOP’s huge loss.

COP leader Prakash Ramadhar, accepted the result, but also voiced his concerns. “The people of Tobago have spoken. The PNM has achieved a clean sweep of the elections to the Tobago House of Assembly,” he said. “The Congress of the People congratulates all the successful candidates in their respective electoral districts.”

Yet Ramadhar saw the PNM’s unanimous win of all seats as a challenge to the development of democracy and good governance.

“The outcome of these elections has produced a new unfettered administration in the THA, without any official minority opposition to provide a check and balance,” he said.

“Similar to the situation in the national Parliament after the 1971 General Elections and opposition no-vote campaign, the people of Tobago must now act as the vigilant check and balance on almost absolute power.”

Ramadhar said the COP is deeply concerned about the emergence of negative and divisive trends in the THA elections campaign which if now ignored, could become dangerous to the unity of the country and the people.

“The COP will do its part to ensure that the unity of our people is not disrupted for the gains of any political party or minority interest.”

He hit the sowing of distrust and hate on the basis of race, the promotion of dangerous inter-island discord, the emergence of significant incidents of hostile and violent behaviour, thankfully not on a widespread scale.

“We call on the people of Trinidad and Tobago and all political parties to defend and promote the unity of our society and stop any attempt to plunge our peaceful land into any form of destructive divisive thinking or action.”

Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Dr Lincoln Douglas, who is one of four COP deputy political leaders, saw lessons in the TOP’s defeat as “an important statement and a reflection of what citizens were feeling”.

Newsday met him at a function at his Ministry at Nicholas Tower, Port-of-Spain, and asked him if the TOP defeat was a message to the PP to change?

“Everything is a message and I expect there to be changes within the People’s Partnership,” he replied. “I expect us to understand that is a very reasonable statement, at least for the bare minimum for the people of Tobago, and for all of us in TT. It is important that we take heed of what is going on and adjust or politics accordingly.”

Douglas congratulated the people of Tobago, as well as the PNM in Tobago for the win. “The people have spoken about what they want, and that is all good in democracy. I’m in support of a Government that works and a relationship that works and most of all I am in support of politics that work.”

TOP officials were mum on the issue of the political future of TOP leader Ashworth Jack.

TOP chairman, Lionel Coker, said the question of whether Jack will step down is yet to be discussed by the party. However, Coker said preliminary feedback from party officials is that the party is not of the view that Jack should be made to step aside because of the 12-0 results of the Tobago House of Assembly election.

“That”s a political decision that we are yet to make. Everybody is spending today relaxing,” he said. “The preliminary feeling that I have been getting is no, he should not be asked to step down. Based on the feedback that I am getting I do not see it happening.”

Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, the TOP MP for Tobago East, declined to be drawn into the issue of who could be the next political leader, should Jack step down.

“What my political leader says I agree and concur with,” she said from Tobago. “He will make a statement or decision. I will wait on consultation with the other members of the party.” She did not attend a sitting of Parliament in Port-of-Spain yesterday.

The other TOP MP, Tobago West MP Dr Delmon Baker, who is Minister of Tobago Development, dismissed suggestions that he may be asked to be party leader, telling reporters at Parliament that the party had not meet on the issue.

Jack did not answer calls.









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