Kamla tells PM: Call Penal/Debe corporation by-election

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is claiming victory for her party’s “October Revolution” after a commitment from the Prime Minister that a date for the by-election in Debe/South will soon be announced.

She said a protest in the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation, part of this revolution, also resulted in correspondence from Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi asking for the Opposition to stay any legal proceedings for the court to rule on the holding of a by-election because of covid19.

Last week, during a protest, Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC) chairman Dr Allen Sammy questioned how a second election was being held for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) after a January tie, but a by-election was yet to be called in Debe South, nine months after councillor Purushottam Singh died

Persad-Bissessar said the response from the AG came eight months after she wrote to him, as an attorney, on behalf of a client, Nicholas Rampersad, an elector from the Debe/South electoral district.

Too late, she said, as Rampersad, through the firm of former AG Anand Ramlogan, has already filed the matter in court.

Speaking on the United National Congress (UNC) virtual platform on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar said divergent responses from the Prime Minister and Al-Rawi were another indication that “the left hand of the AG does not know what the right hand is doing. Again, is left foot, right foot, balisier juice.”

While the AG’s response is to reconsider, she said, the Prime Minister and a People’s National Movement (PNM) team are fully engaged in the Tobago campaign for the December 6 THA elections.

“What hypocrisy. Dictator Rowley – in Tobago, two elections in one year, and yet you cannot do one by-election where a vacancy has arisen?

“We will go to court, and if they fail to name a date, the court will take that decision on our behalf, and in the name of justice and democracy for Trinidad and Tobago.

“I am happy for Tobago. But they didn’t care about the lack of representation in that Debe South seat in the Penal corporation. So, he’s (Rowley) come out, he’s said clearly, the date is coming. We await that date, and never mind that the matter is still in the court.”

She said Al-Rawi will now have to respond and tell the court why the Government does not want to hold a by-election.

She called on Rowley not to suppress the democracy of the people of Debe South, but to act with transparency and equality of treatment in the law and under the law.

“One set cannot be saying geographic discrimination because you are from PDRC – no election – and you are campaigning in Tobago. How can that be right?

“We call upon you to do the correct thing. You have delayed enough to let the President know to issue the election writ and call an election date.”

She pledged, “We will use every constitutional means, every chance we get in the Parliament, every chance we get outside the Parliament, we will use every legal means we know.

These efforts faced uphill battles, she said, “because the PNM have compromised all our independent institutions and even the Constitution itself to limit the power of the Opposition.

“However, if all legal constitutional parliamentary efforts are ignored, that then only leaves us with the politics and we will engage with the politics. We will not stop.”