Maraj: Augustine may sever ties with PDP

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

BACK THEN: PDP leader Watson Duke, left, and THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine before their recent falling out. FILE PHOTO –

Political commentator Ralph Maraj believes THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine may eventually sever ties with the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP).

“It is difficult to see how Farley could continue in the PDP under (party leader Watson) Duke. He will eventually have to go his own way,” he told Newsday.

Maraj, a former government minister who served in both PNM and UNC administrations, also believes Tobagonians could go back to the polls.

“After such an overwhelming mandate, I believe that this will be utterly tragic.”

He was commenting on the ongoing public feud between Augustine and Duke overto the THA’s response to the reported plight of 27 members of the Roxborough Folk Performers who were due to perform at several events in New York ahead of Labor Day celebrations.

Duke claimed the THA, other than airfare, did not provide funds for the group to cover additional expenses. Augustine has denied this.

The PDP leader, who gave up his position as Deputy Chief Secretary last Thursday, was replaced by Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection Dr Faith BYisrael.

She was sworn in on Monday at President’s House, St Ann’s after her election at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex earlier that day.

Duke, who promised to take Augustine to task for not fulfilling the mandate of the party in the THA, also accused him of corruption.

Augustine, in turn, has said he plans to sue Duke and is already consulting with his attorneys.

Duke has said he will not sit with PDP members in the chamber, but on the opposite side.

Maraj said Duke should have discussed his concerns privately with Augustine before going public.

“Things escalated to Duke firing Farley as deputy political leader and resigning as Deputy Chief Secretary of the THA.

“But I am convinced that even though Farley erred in not trying for dialogue before going public (when he announced the review of Duke’s portfolio as Deputy Chief Secretary), he would not have succeeded in satisfying Duke, who seems uncontrollable. It seems inevitable these two would have ended in serious conflict.

“It is all very sad for Tobagonians in particular and for the country.”

In light of these developments, Maraj said it is hardly likely Augustine can continue to function within the PDP, even though: “I would like him to survive this imbroglio..

“He made a most impressive start as Chief Secretary and demonstrated great promise as a politician for the entire nation.”

After BYisrael was sworn in, Augustine laid down an ambitious agenda for the THA.

He said she will be required to lead Tobago’s fight for greater autonomy, as the bill is scheduled to be debated during this parliamentary session.

Augustine also said talks are taking place on to establishing a THA presence in Trinidad at 22-24 Pembroke Street, Port of Spain. The office will fall under the purview of the Office of the Deputy Chief Secretary.