Duke awaits THA presiding officer’s reply on PDP defectors

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PDP political leader Watson Duke . File photo/David Reid

POLITICAL leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) Watson Duke is yet to receive a written response to his call for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Presiding Officer Abby Taylor to declare the seats of 13 former PDP assemblymen vacant.

Last Wednesday, Duke wrote to Taylor to say since the 13 had all resigned from the PDP “and thereby no longer subscribe to the philosophy, ideology, and guiding principles of the party,” she must act forthwith “so as not to perpetuate the illegality.”

This followed last Monday’s mass resignations from the party by the 13 elected assemblymen. The former PDP members have said they are all now independents. Duke is now the sole PDP member of the THA.

Speaking on Mandate Monday, shared via a Facebook live broadcast on Monday titled Power without Responsibility, Duke gave an update.

“I am yet to receive a response in the form of a letter from her. More or less, I expect her to do the honourable thing and to vacate those seats.”

He said he has heard many people speak on the matter, and they had all said there was no need for the seats to be declared vacant, as the THA Act does not recognise political parties, but rather elected representatives.

“And I say, so what if it does not recognise political parties?

“Could the political will of the assemblyman be more supreme than the political will of the electorate? Could the democratic will of the electorate play subservient to the supreme will, or the will of an assemblyman?

“If it is so, then we are creating a recipe for total-deterrent country, and this country will not be a democratic country, but a country by absolute rule…like the kingdom of Italy in the early 1900s (sic) when Mussolini ruled it.”

Benito Mussolini was the fascist dictator of Italy from 1925-1945.

Duke urged: “We cannot allow a democratic country to go into a total-deterrent country. We cannot allow those who are leading the country to claim to be independent, thus abandoning any commitment to the people. They would say, ‘I never told you that, you cannot hold me to nothing, I am simply operating on my own…’

“Folks, Trinidad and Tobago, brothers and sisters, we are living in a troubled time.”

He felt the law should protect its people and protect itself.

“I do not subscribe that the THA can have a different law. I simply believe that the supreme law is the law of TT, and it is the modus operandi whereby all types of governments, whether it be the central government or a quasi-government as the THA…We have to be very careful what we allow in the Tobago space.”

He added: “Let us not allow Farley and his friends to steal the democratic right and democratic will of Tobagonians. They never voted for independents – independents never campaigned, independents never spent resources.

“They spoke on a PDP platform, they had PDP banners, they wore PDP jerseys. And one year later, because I called upon them to follow the mandate or to leave, they choose to leave and become independents, rather than to follow the mandate.”

Newsday tried to contact Taylor, but all calls and messages to her mobile phone went unanswered.