New chairman of the People's National Movement (PNM) Franklin Khan says the divided vote by Opposition MPs was "a storm in a teacup."Public relations officer of the party, Senator Faris Al-Rawi, says the matter was simply "a miscommunication."Both said that the matter was being handled out of proportion in the media.Khan and Al-Rawi spoke at a news conference at Balisier House yesterday following the new executive's first meeting on Saturday.Manning and three other PNM MPs, in an unprecedented development in Parliament, broke party directives and voted "yes" for the motion, while five others, including Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, abstained.
Khan said the General Council discussed the matter and agreed no disciplinary action would be taken against the members who broke party ranks by voting "yes" for the motion brought by Manning in Parliament.Khan said the party should seek to engage in "healing and reconciliation."He said Port-of-Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing brought a motion for the party leadership to take immediate action to achieve that objective.Khan said: "The party's leadership will now initiate discussions with the parliamentary arm to see what differences exist, if any, and what misunderstanding exists, if any, in the parliamentary arm."He said that must be done because the parliamentary arm was the public image of the party."My own view is that there was some little misunderstanding and this is a storm in a teacup," Khan said.
Al Rawi said those who abstained from the vote and those who voted yes both supported Manning's motion. He said the PNM took a conscious decision to "support Mr Manning's motion so that he could move on to court." Manning is expected to file the matter for determination in court soon, sources said yesterday."The decision to abstain from the (Parliamentary) vote was in support of his motion and the decision by certain members to say 'yes' was also in support of his motion," Senator Al Rawi said.He said there was a miscommunication and the three felt they could have voted yes.But Opposition MP Amery Browne did not express that view when asked about his vote on Friday.He said he was persuaded by Manning in his presentation and felt the need to say "yes."
But Al-Rawi insisted: "There is no divisiveness in the issue because they are all in the same direction of supporting the move to have it determined by the court."Manning's motion, which was defeated when the 27 Government MPs voted against in on Friday, was intended to allow his attorney to question witnesses in the Committee of Privileges.Manning was referred to the Committee of Privileges to answer questions to produce evidence to support his claims about the private home of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.Meanwhile, Khan said the PNM would take to the streets after the Easter vacation and would also engage in a three-car raffle to obtain the much needed funds to run the party's affairs. (RL)