Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has vowed that the many issues being kept in the dark concerning the President, Prime Minister and Police Service Commission will continue to be kept alive by the Opposition.
She also promised that a no-confidence motion in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is also on the way, as she reminded what took place the last time the Opposition moved such a motion against a sitting prime minister.
“We’re getting there,” Persad-Bissessar said yesterday.
“The last time I brought a no-confidence motion against a Prime Minister in 2010, his government fell – so it’s coming.”
Persad-Bissessar confirmed this at a media briefing after the United National Congress’ motion to remove President Paula-Mae Weekes was defeated in Parliament.
She slammed Speaker of the House Bridgid Annisette-George, whom she accused of railroading the process and whose handling, she said, produced a travesty of Parliament procedure, where the Opposition participated under protest.
However, Persad-Bissessar said the Opposition won’t give up on the issue and will keep it alive.
She added that the UNC will launch an “October Revolution” to defend the public and the issues will be raised.”
“The Prime Minister will find no rock to hide under to protect him…what’s done in the dark will come to light,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“The public is still in doubt on what happened at President’s House. If you had nothing to hide, why wasn’t the debate allowed – you owe people a duty to speak!”
She said the major players couldn’t expect the public to have confidence in them if they refused to talk about their secret meeting at President’s House. Persad-Bissessar also reiterated that the Opposition won’t participate in supporting the notifications for the new nominees for the Police Service Commission.
She added that these can be passed with a simple majority, but while the nominees may be good people, “We believe it (notifications) will be tainted and there will be distrust on accountability and possible partisanship.”
Persad-Bissessar, who said she was prevented from speaking on yesterday’s motion, added, “T&T is now officially in the hands of dictators – none other than the Prime Minister … (the sitting) marked one of the darkest days of T&T democracy – an attempt to shield the President, Prime Minister and a dishonoured former PSC chairman from what would have been robust scrutiny.”
Persad-Bissessar said the “announcement” Annisette-George made was a statement to which she couldn’t reply. She noted that the Electoral College regulates its business and the Speaker gave herself the power to make guidelines that were illegal.
Also, she said, the matter wasn’t a procedural one and the Constitution doesn’t prevent debate on such a motion.
The Opposition Leader said the Speaker also breached the rules by allowing open vote and she shouldn’t have presided over the matter due to a conflict of interest. Persad-Bissesar noted that Annisette-George drafted the 2009 PSC order which was recently shot down by the courts.
She said the voices of elected Opposition MPs were also “muzzled,” as microphones were shut off as they rose to speak yesterday.
“When the Speaker and Government stifle debate designed by the Constitution to offer conspirators an opportunity to explain their action, we’re in the midst of a galloping dictatorship. They compromised the Parliament to protect their dark secrets!”
Persad-Bissessar said the motion’s defeat has kept in the dark (a) the PM’s involvement,
(b) interference in the merit list,
(c) why the list was submitted to the President and withdrawn,
(d) what authority the President acted on to hand back the list,
(e) why the PM lost confidence in Gary Griffith as Commissioner of Police
(f) if so, why did the Attorney General bring the 2021 PSC order to allow Griffith to act as Commissioner of Police
Persad-Bissessar said there were different stories from the President, Prime Minister and Director of Personnel Administration on the issues, and if her motion had succeeded, a tribunal to investigate the President would have been able to discover the truth.
She added that if the matter was simply discussed in Parliament, it would have been a case of the Government and Opposition speaking and nothing would have happened.
Opposition Leader: Charisse Seepersad had no shame
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says Independent Senator Charisse Seepersad, the sister of the former Police Service Commission chairman Bliss Seepersad “came boldfaced” to the Red House yesterday, breaching the Constitution and voted in favour of the Government against the motion to remove President Paula-Mae Weekes.
“This was a serious conflict of interest on her part – this lady chose not to declare her interest and stood there shamelessly and voted!” Persad-Bissessar said.
“We’d called for her to state her interest and recuse herself but some people don’t have shame – history will judge her.”
Saying the Prime Minister is now fighting with the Law Association, Persad-Bissessar added, “Why was the PM hiding beneath the petticoats of the President, Speaker in the current matter. He’s compromised these offices. He’s at the centre of this – man up!
“The Speaker, poor lady, was so beleaguered, if you saw her face, yet he sat totally dumb.
“I feel sorry for these ladies, they‘re both brilliant in their own right but they’re being used as a shield to protect his and his officials.”
Persad-Bissessar said Rowley (or the President) could have given the truth on the matter and that would have been all that was required to halt the motion if he didn’t want to “stain” T&T’s reputation.
“Why the secrecy—if there’s nothing to hide, why was the debate shut down. Only one answer- he didn’t want us to know the disturbing truth of this sordid affair…this virus of political interference can spread to other commissions, including the EBC (Elections and Boundaries Commission).”