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Abdulah calls on COP, TOP to withhold decision on bill

Published: 
Monday, August 11, 2014

As debate begins today on the controversial Constitutional (Amendment Bill) 2014, the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) is calling on Congress of the People (COP) and Tobago Organisation for the People (TOP) parliamentarians to withdraw their support for the bill. During a press conference held at the MSJ’s headquarters at San Fernando yesterday, MSP political leader David Abdulah said the UNC cannot pass the bill, if the COP and TOP MPs take a collective decision to vote against it.

“This bill runs counter to the policy of proportional representation and the presence of a third party in an election. We are issuing an open letter to all members of parliament, five from the COP and two from TOP, to put country first over their party’s interest and vote against the bill,” Abdulah said.

The United National Congress has 19 MPs. The D’Abadie/O’Meara seat was declared vacant on August 4, after the resignation of Anil Roberts and the Chaguanas West seat is occupied by Jack Warner, the chairman of the Independent Liberal Party. He added that the UNC did not have the requisite majority to pass the bill. In the letter Abdulah said the COP and TOP MPs must consider the dangerous effects of the bill. Abdulah also said that the runoff was never discussed in the public consultations.

“At the meeting of July 9, there was a discussion about this, which found its way into a document on 13th July marked private and confidential. It was an internal document and all of a sudden it moved from private and confidential on August 8 to being an addendum,” Abdulah said.

Saying the runoff ballot must be open to public consultation, Abdulah accused Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of abusing her office. He said if the bill is passed in the Lower House, the MSJ will lobby for senators to reject the bill in the Senate. He also said the MSJ will join other social groups to stop the bill. Abdulah said two public education forums will be held on Tuesday in Port of Spain and Wednesday in San Fernando to explain to citizens the dangers of the bill.