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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Gail Alexander

Today’s continuing Budget 2022 debate will feature Opposition reinforcement of its calls for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to say if he was the “public official” at President’s House when the merit list for Police Commissioner was to be delivered.

And Tobago’s Opposition has also declared PNM leader Rowley must be prepared to answer on this once he gets involved in the December 6 Tobago House of Assembly campaign.

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) leader Farley Augustine said yesterday, “He must be prepared to answer on this issue which is part of the THA campaign. He heads the overall PNM and he’s National Security Council leader in crisis where T&T has neither a Police Service Commission nor appointed Police Commissioner. That affects Tobago as well as Trinidad.”

“THA’s elections are occurring in a pandemic and law and order are imperatives to ensure free, fair elections.”

Augustine added, “This matter will particularly figure for the Prime Minister in the campaign since leadership is a key issue. Tobagonians already don’t think Tobago PNM leader Tracey Davidson-Celestine is trustworthy or will make a good THA leader.”

The PSC collapsed just over a week ago. Three commissioners resigned in disagreement with chairman Bliss Seepersad on issues concerning administrative leave for Gary Griffith. He voluntarily went on leave and is due back to work October 16.

A search is on for members to reconstitute the PSC. Guardian Media understands certain people – including attorneys and other experts – are being approached. It’s uncertain if they’re agreeing.

The spin-off issue of the “public official” arose in the height of the PSC collapse, after a leaked email from ex commissioner Roger Kawalsingh alluded a “public official” being at President’s House on August 12 when Seepersad went to deliver the merit list on CoP nominees to the President. The selection process halted.

The UNC has stated the official provided information which so “alarmed” Seepersad that she didn’t deliver the nominee list.

Post-collapse Opposition Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar called on President Paula-Mae Weekes to say if Rowley was the mystery “public official.”

She said information on persons who entered the premises would be available from gatekeepers and she had information it was him.

Martin Daly (SC) on Wednesday also called for the President to answer.

When Persad-Bissessar first spoke UNC executive member Sean Sobers said the UNC was drafting a Freedom of Information request to ascertain the person’s identity.

An FOI request can’t be put to the President who’s exempt because the FOIA Act only pertains to public bodies. The UNC, which had prepared an FOI query for the PSC has retained that for the incoming PSC.

Meanwhile, Augustine said among issues already figuring on the THA campaign trail, PDP wants the Law Association and Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to clarify if quarantined voters – particularly secondary or other contacts–might be forced not to cast their ballot if they’re isolated at home.