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Kamla: SA trip fostered political unity
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says there is now an increased sense of unity and purpose in T&T, thanks to her visit to South Africa with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. She made the statement on her return home on Thursday night. “I am sure that this, in part, has to do with citizens seeing my Government, the Opposition and other non-governmental organisations coming together with a common purpose,” she explained.
On her trip to Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in South Africa on Tuesday, the PM took with her, Rowley, Emancipation Support Committee head Khafra Kambon and a contingent of Caribbean leaders on a chartered Caribbean Airlines aircraft. On her return home Thursday, she said: “President Mandela’s enduring legacy shall serve as a guiding light to all of us as we journey upon a road towards inclusion and respect.
“We too are capable of making a difference and bringing about the changes we want to see. We too can set aside our differences, be they political or otherwise,” the PM said. “As I said in South Africa, both Dr Rowley and I may have different political views and at times we will disagree. But there is one thing we will always agree on and that is we all want to see a better T&T. We all have the same goal!
“As we celebrate the life of Mandela and the many strides he made in the sphere of human rights, we too are capable of leading by example.” Describing Mandela as “the great unifier,” she said he also helped to strengthen regional unity in the Caribbean. “As chair of the Caricom Conference of Heads of Government, I believe this occasion has brought to the forefront the very spirit of our Caricom union,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“Prime Minister Perry Christie of the Bahamas and I have been discussing what the Caricom can do to honour the legend that is President Nelson Mandela and so, in the coming days, I will consult my colleagues in the region.” Mandela has also inspired the PM to create legislation that will give all citizens an equal opportunity for education, she said. “We will continue to be committed to establishing a society of equal opportunity and we recognise that such an endeavour is rooted in the education of our children, the PM said.
“As we equip our future leaders with the tools to guide us into a brighter era, Mandela’s wise words again echo: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ “This is why I have decided to bring legislation to extend the mandatory age of school enrolment from five to 16 years, an increase from the present obligatory attendance of children between the ages of six to 12.”
Persad-Bissessar also confirmed her earlier decision to name the aircraft that took the T&T entourage to South Africa after Mandela and to observe a day in honour of him.
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