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Samaroo: In politics T&T is two nations
Constitutional reform is necessary to break up the two-party system of government that allows T&T to be divided on race issues. University of T&T lecturer, Prof Brinsley Samaroo, said that yesterday while contributing to a panel discussion on race and colour issues.
The discussion took place at the Faculty of Law of the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine Campus. While Samaroo said “ethnic politics” was inherited from the European influence in the Caribbean, he added the way to remove race as a factor in governance was to change the pattern of governance itself, through constitutional reform.
He added: “We must not blame our political leaders for what we have inherited. “What we need is a constitution that recognises the principle of inclusivity and one that forces different races to work together.” He said the current two-party system, combined with inherited “divide-and-rule” politics, forced T&T into a system where there was an African party and an Indian party.
“Culturally we are one nation but politically we are two nations,” added Samaroo. He said a mistake was being made in asking that the Prime Minister should have one or two terms or asking for recall of representatives. He said the constitution needed to be examined at a more fundamental level.
“We need to make sure lawyers do not take control of this process. They must be told what we want,” he added. Samaroo was concerned that the population was not involving itself in constitution reform. “When are we going to devise a constitution for T&T, written by Trinbagonians?” asked Samaroo.
Also speaking on the issues of race and colour were Prof John La Guerre, historian Gerard Besson and UWI lecturer Michael Toussaint. Toussaint said the constitution did not work because T&T had not gotten to the root of what it was trying to change.
He said: “You cannot have constitutional change unless you know the root of this country’s problems. “T&T has racial problems but we don’t talk about them. We pretend to talk about them but we don’t actually do that.” Constitution reform was one of the issues the People’s Partnership Government pledged in its manifesto it would address. The Congress of the People is holding a series of public consultations on constitution reform.
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