Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is using his ‘Gary Griffith tabanca’ as an excuse to avoid the anti-crime talks with the Opposition.
“Prime Minister Rowley needs to man up, get over Gary Griffith and put the citizens of this country first!” Persad-Bissessar said yesterday.
And despite the stalled anti-crime talks, Persad-Bissessar maintained the UNC remains ready and willing to help the Government fight crime.
Persad-Bissessar levelled the accusation at Rowley following his comments at a media briefing yesterday, where he accused the Opposition of refusing to meet.
The discussions proposed since September have gone nowhere beyond correspondence between both sides.
After Attorney General Reginald Armour, on November 4, asked for the names of the Opposition’s team members by November 9, Persad-Bissessar refused to provide them, since she said she was awaiting Rowley’s reply to her October 14 letter seeking clarification on several issues concerning the talks.
He has not replied to date and did not give any indication of when he might do so yesterday.
But Persad-Bissessar, in a statement, said, “After returning from another taxpayer funded trip abroad, which has again earned no results for the people of our country, Keith Rowley spent his press conference sidestepping critical issues. Instead, he defended his enjoyment of taxpayer funds on these lavish trips and used his ‘Gary Griffith tabanca’ as an excuse to avoid the anti-crime talks.”
Persad-Bissessar said Rowley had skirted around the main issues raised in her letters to him on the talks.
“He clearly states that he’s not coming to the table for crime talks. He believes he can appoint five of his worst ministers to these talks. Five people who have a record of failure, incompetence and dishonesty,” she added.
“He has failed to acknowledge my October 14, 2023 letter seeking clarification and raising pertinent questions about the differences in content between his two letters that were sent regarding crime talks.”
Persad-Bissessar alleged, “And he is now out-and-out lying to give the impression to the population that the Opposition stated that Gary Griffith must attend and this was a ‘deal breaker’. He has resurrected his weird love/hate relationship with Gary Griffith.
“He simply cannot get over his ‘Gary Griffith tabanca.’ Rowley needs to man up, get over Gary Griffith and put the citizens of this country first.”
Persad-Bissessar urged the Prime Minister to “find the time” to meet with stakeholders and “lead the fight” against criminals.
She added, “The UNC remains ready, willing and able to join hands with anyone, including the Government to fight crime in the interest of the people of T&T.”
Gary: Don’t mislead T&T
National Transformation Alliance leader Gary Griffith, in a video response yesterday, called out Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to say what he has to say, “...if you name man.”
Griffith accused Rowley of trying to mislead the country “in speaking about things that he wished he could say but he can’t say because the court has prevented him from doing so”.
Griffith, noting T&T’s crime situation, said when he was police commissioner, public trust and confidence in the TTPS was 59 per cent.
“It went down to eight per cent after I left, after one year - that was your doing, Keith Rowley! Under my watch it was the highest reduction in violent crime in 17 years. Since I left, it has now been the highest spike in crime - that’s your doing,” Griffith said.
He said on his departure in August 2021, crime was the number four concern behind health, education and the economy.
“It’s now the major concern in T&T- that’s your doing. You’re responsible for the situation T&T’s in right now!”
Griffith claimed Rowley had the “audacity” to state that he couldn’t say what he wanted to say because of the court blocking him. Calling on Rowley to be “honest”, he called him out on the Justice Stanley John TTPS audit report and also cited the Emailgate matter revealed in Parliament. He alleged Rowley “did it with Emailgate” and hoped he “could have done it again.”
Griffith added, “If you name man and have belly for once in your life, don’t mislead the country to say you cannot make comments. You cannot make comments in Parliament. That’s what the courts prevented you from doing, you’re free to make any comment in public. If you name man, I dare you.”
Griffith said if Rowley made any comment about him which was a lie, he would sue him for every cent he has.
He said the country was in the current position since Rowley couldn’t “swallow his pride and ego” to do what’s right for T&T, and it had to “continue to drown in blood” due to the Government’s failure to provide safety and security, adding Rowley preferred not to have the support of people who could make T&T safe.