Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. – Parliament
CITING a Special Branch report, rampant murders and lawlessness, and confirmation of a major failure to protect children in state-run and/or state-funded homes, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is challenging Prime Minister Dr Rowley to either fire ministers Foster Cummings, Fitzgerald Hinds and Ayanna Webster-Roy…or resign.
Cummings is the Minister of Youth Development and National Service and is the subject of a Special Branch confidential report and ongoing police investigation; Hinds is the National Security Minister; and Webster-Roy is Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister responsible for Gender and Child Affairs.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. –
The Siparia MP issued her challenge in a press release on Sunday. She said Rowley needs to put country first above party politics.
Criminality, she claimed, had risen to an all-time high under Rowley’s government, with 195 murders committed, up to the weekend, as compared to 115 over the same period in 2021.
She said Rowley’s leadership is at an all-time low as his government grapples with three scandals at the same time.
She referred to the Special Branch report highlighting activities by Cummings back in 2019, when he was a government senator, regarding land ownership and contracts from Government to companies linked to him.
She said it was “simply unfathomable” that Cummings was elevated from a senator to a full ministerial portfolio by the PM, even as he remains the subject of an ongoing police investigation.
She then spoke to the report made public last week on systemic failings in state-run and state-funded children’s homes, where startling accounts of mental, physical and sexual abuse of children were highlighted.
She said this report was completed in December 2021, but line minister Webster-Roy waited a full five months before presenting it to the public.
Persad-Bissessar said it was “criminal” that Webster-Roy saw no urgency in ensuring these reported incidents of abuse be brought to an immediate stop.
She said it appeared that people in government were more concerned with protecting political appointees to the Children’s Authority than dealing swiftly with the findings of the report.
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy. –
Persad-Bissessar said Webster-Roy’s handling of the report proved her unfit for the role of overseeing children’s affairs.
Finally, she spoke of the rampant murders and lawlessness under the PNM and Hinds’ watch.
“Rowley’s Minister of National Security is on record as telling the nation it is ‘not his job’ to make the public feel safe,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She claimed criminals have been emboldened as they are carrying out brazen daylight murders. She added that robberies and home invasions – day and night – are now the norm, and business owners are at the mercy of bandits.
Youth Development and National Service Minister Foster Cummings. –
Persad-Bissessar said the fact that Cummings, Hinds and Webster-Roy remain fully entrenched in Rowley’s Cabinet was proof for her of the corruption and cronyism this Government is immersed in.