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Supporters, protesters face-off outside PM’s residence

Sunday, August 10 2014

Ten government supporters, two of them dressed in the colours of the United National Congress (UNC) failed to stop a 45- minute placard protest demonstration by members of “Fixin T & T” outside the Philippine residence of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday. Chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Premchand Sookoo led the noisy group of supporters who began gathering near the Prime Minister’s residence from as early as 3.50 pm yesterday.

The head of “Fixin T &T,” Kirk Waithe, who draped himself in the national colours, along with a small group of four women and three men, all stood still holding large white placards calling for the postponement of the debate tomorrow of the controversial Constitution Amendment Bill 2014 in Parliament.

Persad-Bissessar is scheduled to open debate on the bill in the House of Representatives tomorrow. The Senate is scheduled to sit on August 19 at 11 am, to debate the bill once it is passed in the House.

The group of pro-Government supporters hurled verbal abuse at both “Fixin T&T” group and members of the media recording the event.

The drama began at 4.50 pm when Waithe and members arrive at the site in two large buses. Sookoo and his supporters then walked up to the gates in front of the PM”s house and tried chasing Waithe’s group, even attempting to grab a placard from one of the protesters.

In a brief interview, Waithe said his objective was to have the debate postponed.

“In particular, the aspect of the run-off,” he told reporters, saying that this proposed amendment was a dangerous assault on the Constitution and the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

Waithe told reporters he chose in front the PM’s residence to make his statement because it has become a public space.

“We came here because this is where the PM spends most of her time. She has held Cabinet and other meetings here and this makes it a public space. People’s business is done at this residence so we have a right to be here.”

He said the group plans to continue its protest in front the Parliament Building on the Waterfront, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain as well. Approached for comment, Sookoo refused to be interviewed, telling reporters they had no right to be conducting interviews with the protesters in front the residence of the Prime Minister.

Police officers arrived on the scene at about 5.20 pm, shortly after Sookoo and his group had left the area.

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