Keith Rowley is Opposition Leader
By Clint Chan Tack Monday, May 31 2010
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DIEGO Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley yesterday disclosed that Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert was the only People’s National Movement (PNM) MP who is not supporting him to be Opposition Leader in the Tenth Parliament which is expected to convene on June 14.
This means that the MPs supporting Rowley as Opposition Leader are former Prime Minister and PNM political leader Patrick Manning (San Fernando East); Paula Gopee-Scoon (Point Fortin); Dr Amery Browne (Diego Martin Central); Marlene McDonald (Port-of-Spain South); NiLeung Hypolite (Laventille West); Donna Cox (Laventille East/Morvant); Fitzgerald Jeffrey (La Brea); Patricia McIntosh (Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West); Alicia Hospedales (Arouca/Maloney) and Joanne Thomas (St Ann’s East).
Gopee-Scoon confirmed that she signed the letter and said she was satisfied with the discussions she held with Rowley prior to doing so. PNM chairman Conrad Enill said the matter has been resolved and Rowley had obtained the support he needs to be appointed Opposition Leader.
Rowley told Newsday that Manning and the other ten PNM MPs have signed a letter expressing their support for him as Opposition Leader. Section 83 (2) of the Constitution states, “The President shall, if the person concerned is willing to be appointed, appoint as Leader of the Opposition the member of the House of Representatives who, in his judgment, is best able to command the support of the greatest number of members of the House of Representatives who do not support the Government.”
Last Thursday, the PNM General Council advised its MPs in the House to accept a recommendation from Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Orville London that they support Rowley as Opposition Leader.
Rowley said the letter bearing the signatures of the MPs supporting him will be dispatched to President George Maxwell Richards on Tuesday.
This letter will be accompanied by one from Rowley to the President, indicating his willingness to serve as Opposition Leader.
Rowley said his effectiveness as Opposition Leader of the PNM as the Opposition would not be diminished by the war of words which took place between Manning and himself over Udecott while the PNM was in government.
“What I did was in keeping with my oath of office (as a Member of Parliament). I did my job to the best of my ability.”
He advised new Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that the People’s Partnership coalition would be wasting its time trying to harass the PNM and must remember that it is now the Government.
Recalling that Persad-Bissessar promised during the election campaign that her government would implement the recommendations of the Uff Inquiry Report, Rowley said, “They now have the opportunity to demonstrate the good governance of which they speak.”
Stating that he spoke with Manning when he obtained his support, Rowley said Manning is an important member of the Opposition’s team in the House and will be treated with all the respect which he deserves for his 40 years of service to Trinidad and Tobago.
Persad-Bissessar provided Manning with security and a vehicle after PNM supporters heckled him as he left Balisier House on Thursday, after submitting his resignation as PNM leader.
While he wished the new government well and praised his friend Mayaro MP Winston “Gypsy” Peters for being appointed Culture Minister, Rowley said there were “question marks” over some of Persad-Bissessar’s ministers but this would be addressed in the Tenth Parliament.
While the coalition has a two-thirds majority in the House by virtue of its 29 MPs, Rowley said the PNM will ensure through its actions in the Parliament that the country has “a credible alternative” as and when the time requires.