Duke: Do not recognise Farley-led THA

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PDP political leader Watson Duke speaks with the media in September. File photo/David Reid

The Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke is calling on the international community to not recognise Chief Secretary Farley Augustine and his Executive Council as legitimate representatives of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

He made the appeal in a Facebook live on Wednesday, two days after Augustine and all other members of the Executive Council announced their resignations from the PDP. The PDP stormed into office on December 6, 2021, defeating the People’s National Movement 14-1 in the THA election.

Their exits were prompted by a public feud between Augustine and Duke, with both accusing each other of being power hungry.

Despite calls from political rivals and some members of the electorate for fresh elections, the assemblymen who left the PDP have declared themselves independents.

Duke said the PDP is in preparatory mode for three elections – the THA election, the local government election and the general election.

“Let us call for local government elections now in Trinidad – it is long overdue, let us call for THA elections now – it is now overdue. The last executive, the Farley Chavez Augustine executive is no more, what we have there according to the (THA Act) standing orders 90, it speaks about where the THA does not have the clear way forward on any issue, we can look to the House of Representatives for guidance,” Duke said.

“When you look to the House of Representatives for guidance you have to go to the Constitution – section 49 2(e) that says whenever a person is elected to the House resigns from the party, they must vacate the seat.”

He said Augustine and his team were elected to the assembly through a party system and since they have resigned, they should vacate the seats.

“Please leave us, please vacate the seats – all of you there are operating illegally, and I would not recognise any of you and I challenge Tobago and Trinidad and the international community, not to recognise any of you. It is time for elections – the precedent has been set and you can jump high, you can stoop low, it doesn’t change. The Constitution is the supreme law.”

He said the public is longing for real change and he has been anointed to deliver it.

“Our country has been in crisis for a mighty long time and those who have led our country, they are the ones who claim to have years of experience in the government. The question you must ask yourself – what did their experience teach them and what are they implementing based on their experience that would end the long night of depression and distress for the national community?

“They have not taught us anything nor have they implement anything – all we know is pain, all we know is delayed gratification, all we know is a promissory note that says when I win again I will fix this, or give me another chance and I would fix this.”

He said the PDP is not like that.

“The PDP believes in a government that puts people before politics. We believe that if you take care of people, politics would find its way. We also believe that the nation is blessed with all the resources that is necessary to turn our economy around.”

He said the PDP is speaking economic recovery and accelerated development. He said it is time to do away with the outdated thinking that if you give a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, he will be fed for a lifetime.

“We have tried that. Today, there are thousands of people that are home who have learnt to fish and there is no fish. Why – because before they fish, a trawl passed and collected all the fish in the sea, and they could fish from now till next week – there is no fish to be caught. The fishing stock has been depleted.”

He said the PDP is of the belief that there must be some level of social security and social protection for those who are unemployed. He called on the government and the THA to immediately implement better social care for those who are currently fishing, looking for opportunities and jobs.

He said regardless of the battles, he would not give up the struggle to defend the interest of Tobago and Trinidad. He said citizens should look beyond the smoke and mirrors.