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Orville bowing out after term
Chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Orville London said yesterday his new term in office will be his last. London, 68, would be marking a fourth term and would have governed the island for 16 straight years by the end of it. “This is definitely going to be my last term and I want to say it in public so that it would be very difficult for me to renege on that,” London said in a telephone interview yesterday, as he was preparing for his inauguration tomorrow.
He assured there would be no glitches when the time came to change leadership, as measures would be put in place for systems to run smoothly. PNM chairman Franklin Khan also echoed similar sentiments yesterday, saying a successor may be considered during the course of the term.
On the PNM’s monopoly of the THA now, Khan said there was an issue over who would be minority leader and whether there would be the operation of a proper democracy. The THA Act says the President shall appoint a minority leader—someone supported by the majority of those who did not support the ruling party—after appointing a chief secretary and a deputy.
Khan said the victory obviously would strengthen PNM leader Keith Rowley’s leadership. “The PNM was soundly defeated in the 2010 general election and resoundingly defeated in the subsequent local government poll, so the last standing pillar of PNM for public office was the THA. Under no circumstance would we have allowed that to crumble,” he said.
“But this resounding victory is clear indication to us that Tobagonians dislike T&T’s governance. This is an indictment on Government. We hope to take the victory into local government polls and as a platform into 2015 general election.” On this issue, London said he was aware there would be criticisms and concerns, but said the situation also presented an opportunity for discussion and for everyone to work harder to deliver better results.
“The fact that we don’t have an opposition, it means that all the criticism would be centred around you,” he said. “But it does give us an opportunity by which we can involve the community and all interest groups...it is going to be a challenge but if we treat with it differently, we can gain some advantage.”
However, he said he was wary that a government which won by an overwhelming majority, in most cases, eventually became “unpopular.” “That government ends up being unpopular somewhere around mid-term because of the weight of expectation ...we have to be very wary of that.” In his speech in Tobago on Monday, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley also raised the issue of no opposition.
“Governing with no opposition is going to be difficult because you don’t want to feel as if you have all the answers,” Rowley said.
Party will ensure good governance—Al-Rawi
The PNM would be holding discussions to ensure checks and balances are in place so that good governance prevail in Tobago, especially with the absence of an official opposition, Opposition senator Faris Al-Rawi said yesterday. He described Monday’s victory as “overwhelming,” adding it paved the way for other major successes, including the local government and general elections.
He said what was equally stunning was Jack losing his seat—Providence/Mason Hall/Moriah—to Sheldon Cunningham.