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Rowley demands ‘full disclosure’ on self government contents
Government yesterday backed down on its move to approve new legislation to allow for a system of internal self government before the January 21 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections. In a statement in Parliament, Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar said the bills will instead now be referred to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament after debate in the House of Representatives next week.
“What this means is that there would be more time for further discussions and consultations in order to obtain the consent and support of all members of Parliament and the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Persad-Bissessar said. Persad-Bissessar said the legislation provided for significant constitutional changes and required a 3/4 majority vote. “It will therefore require the support of the Opposition,” she added.
At that point, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley told the PM it seemed as though she had no friends on the Opposition benches. Later, Rowley confirmed this and said the Opposition was not prepared to support the legislation before the people of Tobago and Trinidad were aware of all the provisions. He said the Opposition received only one of the bills yesterday and would have to consult with its legal team before it could comment on it in any debate.
Rowley said the Opposition supported the move for internal self government for Tobago, but objected to the People’s Partnership Government’s attempt to advance the initiative during the height of the THA election campaign. He said the move had far-reaching consequences and should be properly discussed and debated and not rushed. “So we’ve got to get the process right, up front, before we enact anything,” he insisted. “So, insofar as there is a requirement for the PNM votes to advance this, such votes will not be used to advance the UNC’s election campaign in Tobago.”
Rowley added: “They (PP) could say what they want in Tobago ... but that support is not going to come in this form of bullying to pass possibly bad law in an uninformed environment.” He said the Opposition MPs “need to understand every phrase before we agree that what we are changing from is worthy of an intervention.” Rowley said the Prime Minister’s role in the entire matter was “irresponsible, reckless, vulgar, obscene.” He said the Government was forced to back down on the move to rush the legislation through Parliament
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