Duke urges PM: End ‘reign of terror’ in Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Progressive Democratic Patriots political leader Watson Duke –

PROGRESSIVE Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke has chided the Prime Minister for not pushing for an amendment to the Constitution after Chief Secretary Farley Augustine and other THA executive members left the PDP and formed the Tobago People’s Party (TPP).

The PDP won a resounding 14-1 victory over the PNM in the December 6, 2021, THA elections, ending the latter’s 20-year reign in the assembly.

But the entire executive resigned from the PDP on December 5, 2022, four months after

Duke accused the assembly of “abandoning” a Roxborough group that had gone to perform at a cultural event in New York.

The Augustine-led executive initially declared themselves independents in the THA before forming the TPP in April 2023.

The party was launched in Scarborough on August 13, 2023, with Augustine as its interim political leader. The TPP hosts its first internal election in June.

During a news conference on April 24 at the PDP’s headquarters, Port Mall, Scarborough, Duke said Dr Rowley should have quickly intervened to prevent the Augustine-led THA from “illegally” occupying office.

He said, “Nowhere in the world could you hear a party, without contesting an election, is leading an executive in a democratic country. And that is happening under his nose, under his African nose it is happening. How could it possibly happen?”

Accusing Rowley of “sitting down and watching a coup take place under his nose,” Duke asked, “Where are the quick and successive amendments to put down this reign of terror upon the people of Tobago? Or is he going to wait until election time come around and then ask Tobago to vote for his party?”He said he understood why the Ghanaian African Prosperity Network did not give Rowley the Global African Leadership Award in January.

“They gave our neighbour – the President of Guyana Dr Irfaan Ali, got the award. Imagine that. An African country has bestowed an award upon our neighbour in Guyana and I am seeing, in a photo, our Prime Minister, with his African self, sitting there not even being recognised among the African people for greatness.

“What are we doing?

“If you can’t settle this in your own hometown, Tobago, Mr Prime Minister, you are wasting time.”

Duke, the Roxborough/Argyle assemblyman, recalled Rowley had called on Augustine to “call the election” after the TPP was formed.

“Under your nose, the people of Tobago have expressed their political will for a specific mandate for a specific political party. And you have turned your face from that and threatened Farley, saying, ‘If you all are doing that (forming the TPP), call the election.’ Well, he do it, in your face he register he party.

“What yuh going to do now? Tobagonians are waiting on you, Mr Prime Minister. Don’t be an abject failure, as you have been on crime and so many other issues. Don’t be a failure to Tobagonians.”

Duke said he is waiting to see how Rowley will treat with this.

“You are the Prime Minister. You have executive authority over everybody in this country, over the THA too. Let me see want you will do.”

He said the Constitution does not speak to a “group of wildly excited assemblymen,” who decide to leave a party and form another.

“This is a subversion of justice and I am wondering, ‘Where is the head of the Prime Minister as he contemplates on Tobago being run in a self-governing manner?’”