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TT flags to fly at half mast for late SA leader

By MIRANDA LA ROSE Monday, December 9 2013

This country’s National Flag will be flown at half mast tomorrow and Wednesday in honour of the late South African freedom fighter and first Black President, Nelson Mandela.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told the media yesterday at the Children’s Christmas Party she hosted at the Hasely Crawford Stadium that she has requested National Security Minister Gary Griffith invoke the relevant piece of legislation “to fly our flag at half mast on Tuesday and Wednesday whilst we are paying tribute and attending the services in South Africa.”

Meanwhile, Persad-Bissessar said Local Government Minister Marlene Coudray will act as Prime Minister in her absence.

She expects that schools, government offices and the Defence forces will lead the way in flying the flags at half mast.

Persad-Bissessar is due to leave the country this morning as Chairman of Caricom, and will head the Trinidad and Tobago delegation that will include Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley.

Asked about her invitation to Rowley to attend the events in South Africa, Persad-Bissessar said “I think it is most appropriate under the circumstances and for proper representation for Trinidad and Tobago.”

A number of regional Heads of Government including Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Christie will join the regional team that will leave Port-of-Spain this morning aboard a charted Caribbean Airlines Limited aircraft. The aircraft will fly to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil where it will refuel and then proceed across the Atlantic to South Africa, she said.

Though she did not know the cost at the time, she said, “I do assure you that in terms of the commitment that we have towards the great work and attributes to the former head of South Africa, the cost of it will not be exorbitant, but will be well worth the representation as Chairman of Caricom and as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago with a delegation.”

She believes it would have cost more to fly the delegation to London and then to South Africa.

The local delegation will also include Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz who is already in South Africa, Minister in the Ministry of the People and Social Development Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Margaret Parillon, PNM Senator Faris Al Rawi, Chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee, Kafra Kambon, a member of the National Joint Action Committee, and TT High Commissioner to South Africa Harry Partap.

While a bigger delegation could have travelled, Persad-Bissessar said there is a quota constraint for a national delegation on how many persons can attend the memorial service on Tuesday and the viewing on Wednesday. As such, she said six persons will go on Tuesday and another six the following day. “We will share how we go to the venues over the two days,” she said.

Asked which other Heads of Government will be accompanying her, Persad-Bissessar said they were still tying up loose ends, but she expected that Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell and St Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony would have joined her.

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