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PM to send agenda today
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has proposed next Tuesday for the meeting which Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has sought with her, United National Congress public relations officer Anita Haynes confirmed yesterday.
The Opposition proposed the date following Rowley’s request for a private meeting at the Parliament. Rowley had said the meeting will be for preliminary discussion on “selected matters of national interest” involving areas in which he feels “the Opposition should be engaged.”
Persad-Bissessar had told supporters at a meeting on Monday night that she would attend.
Yesterday, Haynes said, “We’ve sent a letter proposing Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 2 pm in response to the request from the Office of the Prime Minister. We are awaiting confirmation of the date and time from the OPM.”
In a WhatsApp message response to GML queries on the meeting last evening, Rowley said: “She (Persad-Bissessar) proposed that date, which is within the time frame I suggested and I agreed so the meeting will take place next Tuesday at 2 pm. She asked for an agenda and she will receive one tomorrow (today).”
Yesterday, other UNC officials couldn’t say if Persad-Bissessar would insist on having a note-taker at the meeting, which Rowley wants to be private.
Matters expected to be discussed include possible legislative directions regarding current issues in the judiciary, stemming from 53 cases which were left unfinished when former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar was appointed a High Court Judge before being forced to resign from her next position.
Last week, Rowley had hinted that the judiciary issue may become one for the executive to deal with, adding correspondence he’d seen indicates the matter may only be solved by resorting to Parliament. He’d also indicated a willingness to have a special sitting of Parliament for this.
Parliament is currently on vacation and MPs would have to be called back to work for a special session.
Rowley had also said he was “about” to approach the Opposition for discussions outside of the Parliament on campaign finance reform, following the Jamaican model, to have talks on the reform issue prior to proceeding to Parliament. He said Government recently discussed “progressing the national discussion” on campaign finance and was about to initiate it.
Government sources say any legislation that requires Opposition support in the Parliament may be an issue for the meeting. They noted that apart from the matters Rowley has hinted about - the judiciary and campaign finance reform - Government also has a heavy legislative agenda coming up.
UNC sources said they expected the PM would focus on the judiciary’s issues, “but we also feel the state of the country should be discussed and the issue of crime especially should be high on the agenda. Women are being targeted - it’s time the PM listens to the public.”
After word of the meeting on Monday, Persad-Bissessar said among matters she’d want to discuss with the PM would be a tribunal to see who was “telling the truth” in the issue of the judicial fiasco involving Ayers-Caesar.
Persad-Bissessar didn’t answer calls yesterday.
This will be the first such private meeting between Rowley and Persad-Bissessar. They met last year, but had been accompanied by delegations from their respective parties to discuss anti-crime endeavours.