Prime Minister and political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Dr Keith Rowley met with the former leader of the Tobago Council of the PNM and chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Kelvin Charles yesterday.
Neither the chief secretary nor the prime minister released any information about the meeting.
However, Guardian Media has been informed that prior to yesterday’s meeting, Charles was offered an ambassadorship and also an option to take up a position as a secretary in the THA.
He refused the offers.
Up to late last night, the PNM assemblymen were meeting to decide on the way forward.
On Saturday, eight assemblymen began talks to petition the THA’s presiding officer Vanessa Cutting-Thomas, to hold a special sitting of the Assembly on Friday.
The assemblymen aim to move a no-confidence motion against Charles, a source said.
Guardian Media reached out Cutting- Thomas on whether a petition was signed by assemblymen to hold a special sitting.
She said she has “no official comment.”
Once such a motion is passed, Charles will have two days to resign as chief secretary, in accordance with the THA Act.
The Act states that if he fails to do so then, the president must revoke his appointment.
This will result in deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack becoming the interim chief secretary until next year’s THA election.
The source said infighting in the ruling administration continued after Tracy Davidson-Celestine became the leader of the PNM Tobago Council on January 26, preventing Executive Council meetings from taking place.
The Executive Council is the executing arm of the THA’s administration, currently run by the Tobago council of the PNM.
The Council usually meets on Wednesdays, makes decisions affecting Tobago, and announces them at a media briefing on that day.
The source said since Jack announced on December 16, that he was running against Charles, the Executive Council met only once in January.
Charles and Jack’s relationship grew worse after Jack spawned Charles’ advances to align with him in the runoff leadership election with Davidson-Celestine on January 26, the source added.
Jack and Dr Denise Tsoaifatt-Angus aligned with Davidson-Celestine to beat Charles by over 1,000 votes.
When Davidson-Celestine won she called for Charles to step down as Chief Secretary of Tobago.
She cited the Westminster system of government whose precedent saw all leaders leaving their positions after facing defeat at the polls.
Weighing in on the situation, former Assemblyman Stanley Beard, who assisted in fine-tuning the THA Act No 40 of 1996, said the impasse cannot continue.
He said a motion of no-confidence can remove Charles or he can dissolve the Assembly before that occurs and call early elections.
“He (Charles) cannot make that decision unless he consults with the prime minister,” Beard said.
The motion will require a special sitting of the assembly, he said.
Seven assemblymen, including opposition members Watson Duke and Farley Augustine, can petition the presiding officer for the meeting, he added.
Addressing the powers of the presiding officer in this situation, Beard said since the request is procedural” if the request is not granted “her (presiding officer) actions can be frowned upon.”
“It’s not her call,” he said.