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London’s call for two councillors in Cabinet today
Tobago PNM leader Orville London’s proposal for two councillors to be appointed for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to make up for the lack of an opposition will be discussed at today’s Cabinet meeting, government officials said yesterday. After the PNM won all 12 seats in the January 21 THA election, Chief Secretary London proposed that legislation governing the THA should be amended to allow the President to use his discretion to appoint two councillors.
The THA Act allows the minority in the assembly to elect one councillor on the advice of the minority leader but here is no minority leader after the PNM’s whitewash at the THA poll. The THA’s first legislative statutory meeting was held without any minority representation and its second meeting takes place next Thursday.
London said he had written to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar recommending Parliament meet and have the President appoint two independent councillors at his discretion. London said appropriate arrangements should be made to allow for views alternative to those of the winning party to be expressed in the THA.
He suggested that in the light of the constitutional bill concerning Tobago which was being debated in Parliament recently, the legislative change on councillors should address the minority situation. London’s office subsequently said Cabinet’s General Purposes Committee was being asked to deliberate on the proposal. Yesterday, government officials said London’s letter was received and Cabinet would discuss the issue today.
If it was decided upon, they said, either President George Maxwell Richards, currently on pre-retirement leave, or the incoming Anthony Carmona might have to deal with the issue. Richards’ term ends on March 17 and Carmona is expected to be sworn in immediately after. THA sources said yesterday there had been no headway on the proposal as far as they knew.
The PNM parliamentary Whip Marlene McDonald said the PNM had no update on the Tobago bill which has been on hold since debate on it last month was suspended.
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