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Camille McEachnie

Today is the fifth day since President Paula-Mae Weekes proclaimed the Tobago House of Assembly (Amended) Act No. 2 of 2021 on July 26.

The President had assented to the act on March 16.

The proclamation gives way for the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to report to Parliament on the division of Tobago’s electoral districts to 15 within 90 days and clears the way for fresh elections before 2022.

The People’s National Movement (PNM)-controlled Cabinet’s move to have the act proclaimed, is not sitting well with the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP).

The PDP said it has no issue with the President as her role is ceremonial.

“This is actually a disappointing change of events, and it actually shows that the PNM led by Dr. (Keith) Rowley was not sincere and was not serious about this Tobago Autonomy thing,” one of the PDP’s deputy leader’s, Dr Faith B.Yisrael said.

Another deputy leader, Farley Augustine, echoed similar sentiments, saying taking the Tobago autonomy Bills sent to Parliament for discussion is a “charade.”

Following the six/six election tie on January 25, 2021, Rowley met with both parties, indicating that Parliament could amend the constitution to add three more electoral districts to Tobago and call fresh elections or seek constitutional reform to amend the THA and national constitutions, giving Tobago greater autonomy. The Tobago Council of the PNM remained in control of Tobago as provided for by the law.

The PDP proposed the two parties share control of the island. However, talks fell apart.

Augustine said the party is ready for the polls for “a long time now.”

Up to news time, the PNM did not respond to queries about how the party feels about the proclamation and whether it is ready for elections.

After the EBC sends the reports to Parliament on the 15 new electoral districts and the act is passed with a simple majority in Parliament, the way is clear for the Assembly to be dissolved and

the Chief Secretary to call fresh elections.