Senior Political Reporter
The Opposition United National Congress (UNC) will open general election nominations for all 41 seats in Trinidad and Tobago next month, says Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who has also maintained she'd like to have NTA leader Gary Griffith at the anti-crime talks with the Government.
Persad-Bissessar spoke at last night's resumption of UNC Monday Night Report at Couva South's Multi-Purpose Hall.
Persad-Bissessar said that as the UNC prepares to enter the general election year, the UNC opens nominations in December for all general election seats in T&T.
"If as some of the guys say, you name man or woman, you're free to put in your nomination form. So we're looking for candidates for the general election whenever called but next year is an election year and we must start off on a strong footing to go forward," she added.
Persad-Bissessar said though the UNC contested 31 fewer seats than the PNM in the August Local Government election, the party won 43,000 more votes and every marginal seat.
"We'll continue the work and you'll vote again for safety and security," she said.
Citing reports on the crime situation and "peace talks", Persad-Bissessar said, "You're handling them with kid gloves; what the hell you should be doing is locking them up and putting them behind bars. T&T is a killing field now!"
Reiterating her response to Prime Minister Keith Rowley's statement on the anti-crime talks, Persad-Bissessar said the person who chairs Cabinet and the National Security Council must deal with TT's most urgent and horrifying problem, "Why are you braksing, ducking and hiding?!"
Persad-Bissessar who said she'd like to see Griffith as a stakeholder in the talks, noted he'd been her People's Partnership Government's National Security Minister and Rowley's Police Commissioner.
"So what's wrong? The man has experience."
"Rowley hasn't replied (to my letter) as he has no answer. I sent recommendations but you remove all of that and only want to deal with legislation. We have so many. What more legislation do you want," she asked, adding the UNC supported the Anti-Gang law.
"Instead you're 'making love' to gangs when you should be locking them up. Whenever Rowley is ready to clarify the issues raised and attend, I'll meet you anywhere anytime."
"I'm not insulted by Rowley ducking and hiding but citizens are insulted. I understand he's insecure with many irrational fears...but I believe we should work together for the greater good. But they clearly don't want to explain to the country why they're refusing to work with stakeholders or for the Prime Minister to attend. Who am I supposed to speak to at the meeting if he doesn't attend? A ghost?"
"They're travelling all over the world begging for help but refusing to meet our local stakeholders. They don't want to talk to people but we will," she said adding, UNC will have anti-crime consultations with the public.
$34.6m spent to preserve refinery since 2018
UNC deputy leader Dr Roodal Moonilal who said the murder toll is officially 516, called for an independent probe of alleged "peace deals" on whether any TTPS unit has agreement with gangs.
He accused Rowley of bloviating yesterday and suffering from "liabetes". "Talking for two hours, yet couldn't say what achievements will come from the Saudi Arabia trip."
UNC deputy leader Jearlean John said, "The only thing going up is Rowley's frequent flier account and the murder rate.. young black men dying on the streets! Expendable, because he doesn't care. The 'Colour Me Orange' programme started under Patrick Manning PNM. When you compare Manning to Rowley, Manning made perfect sense!"
UNC deputy leader David Lee said a Freedom of Information request shows Government paid Damus $34.6m to preserve the Petrotrin refinery between December 1, 2018, when the refinery was closed to June 2023. Noting next week marks the fifth anniversary of Petrotrin's closure, Lee said Paria Fuel Trading hired UWI to assess the impact/effects which the refinery's closure had on Pointe-a-Pierre communities.
UNC MP Rudy Indarsingh noted the Paria Commission of Inquiry report into the deaths of the four LMCS divers will be delivered to the President on November 30.
He called for Rowley to ensure it's laid in Parliament and sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions "and let the chips fall where they may if anyone is culpable of negligence!"