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As PNM presents candidates for THA elections, Rowley hints at help from Ramesh, Hochoy
In a surprise move yesterday, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley announced that he had no qualms about joining two longtime political opponents, Hochoy Charles and Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, in a collaborative effort to govern T&T. He was speaking after the People’s National Movement (PNM) introduced its slate of candidates for the January 21 Tobago House of Assembly elections last night.
That announcement was the high note in a delivery that included many harsh words for the People’s Partnership (PP) coalition. Rowley said the PP was trying to amend the Constitution to bring eventual self-government to Tobago without consulting the Opposition.
The legislation, which would amend the Constitution to enhance the legislative and executive powers of the THA, is to be brought to Parliament today. However, Rowley said he had no details about the contents of the legislation. “We are in the middle of a campaign, but the high point of vulgarity is the lack of class they showed by coming to Parliament with a bill,” he said.
“I am the Opposition leader of the country and I am going to Parliament tomorrow but I have no idea what they will lay in Parliament. “When you amend the Constitution to change relationship between different part of the country, you must consult. In some places war is fought over that. While we support Tobago for autonomy, they have undermined the discussions in Tobago.”
Rowley told Tobagonians that they should show some decency and not bow to lies, deceit and oppression. “They want you to believe that this giver of gifts will give you self-government and it will be progression from one stage to another but this is a civilised process...It is not to be a gimmick of the TOP,” he said.
“They said they will give you power to make laws, I cannot say yea or nay to that. I don’t know what they have. They are demanding that I must vote for it but the PNM is a responsible party and under no pressure will we enact any legislation that will damage Tobago’s interest,” Rowley said.
He added that the power to pass laws may also include imposition of taxes. “Kamla say she will give you power to pass laws,” he said. The assembly has power to pass by-laws. If we are going to have federation arrangement shouldn’t people know about it? If that is case, shouldn’t there be a federal government. Have you ever heard such madness.”
A possible collaboration
Rowley said the PNM will offer protection to the people of T&T even if it means collaborating. “If Kamla could get together with Jack Warner to ruin this country, I can get together with Hochoy Charles and Ramesh Maharaj to run this country,” Rowley said.
“They say the PNM is financing Hochoy Charles to oppose so that he could split votes and PNM could win. I have been in opposition to Charles in 1980, and if there is any Tobagonian who deserve the title of Tobagonian, it is Charles,” Rowley added. He said that he has been opposed to Charles since the 1980s and denied that the PNM was financing Charles to split the votes of the TOP.
However, contacted yesterday, Maharaj said he was surprised by Rowley’s statements. He said Rowley has not contacted him for any collaboration. “I am committed to help any organisation which has the interest of the country at heart,” Maharaj said.
“I think that T&T is in a sad state and it needs saving and rescuing. I am prepared to consider assisting in rescuing T&T. The people of Tobago has a very important role to play in ensuring that T&T are saved and rescued.” As the party presented its slate, each candidate spoke briefly and pointed out some of the accomplishments of the party in Tobago.
Groome-Duke said: “The past four years have been outstanding for improvements in the delivery of social infrastructural services especially in education, health and social services in Tobago. “In 2011, we spent $198.2 million on health and the social safety net support for the vulnerable, and $349.9 million for poverty reduction programmes.”
Groome-Duke said Tobago experienced the growth and development of Canaan/Bon Accord, the establishment of the boat operators company, the creation of the Crown Point Heritage park, and the construction of fishing facilties at Swallows.
She said at Signal Hill, the construction of the new Scarborough General Hospital was a source of pride to Tobagonians and was second to none.
Among the candidates presented by the PNM were:
• Claudia Groome-Duke (Black Rock/Whim/Spring Garden)
• Godwin Adams (Plymouth/Golden Lane)
• Tracey Davidson-Celestine (Parlatuvier/L'Anse Fourmi/Speyside)
• Hayden Spencer (Belle Garden/Goodwood)
• Joel Jack, (Bacolet/Mt St George)
• Jomo Pitt (Lambeau/Signal Hill)
• Handel Beckles (Bethel/Mt Irvine)
• Ancil Dennis (Buccoo/Mt Pleasant)
• Huey Cadette (Canaan/Bon Accord)
• Sheldon Cunningham (Providence/Mason Hall/Moriah)
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