Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke, whose party is contesting the two Tobago seats for the general election, said the PDP will stack its chips alongside any interested party willing to put Tobago’s interests first.
Duke, who last year snubbed an offer to join the One Voice coalition party, comprising TOP, Tobago Forwards and Platform of Truth, said he was open to working with any party once his party took a prominent role.
He said in a Facebook video, “We are prepared to lead. Tobago is prepared to lead in a Trinidad and Tobago relationship. We are prepared to have a coalition, we are prepared to work with any political organisation but we must be able to dictate what is required for Tobago and Tobagonians.”
Duke said he was grateful for the August 10 general election announcement and looks forward to PDP sweeping Tobago.
“We are confident that Tobago will be a blackout (PDP’s colour is black) in 2020, we look forward to that. I want to say thank you Dr Rowley, thank you so much for giving Tobagonians this opportunity to get rid of you and the PNM, once and for all.”
Asked on Sunday whether the PNM was one of the parties the PDP would be willing to partner with, PDP deputy political leader Dr Faith BYisrael said, “Any organisation that is willing to negotiate on behalf of Tobago. One, you modify the THA Act to increase the quantity we can get and allow us to make laws in Tobago. The (2020/2021) budget that comes out gives Tobago ten per cent, that is what we trying to negotiate. Any political party who can negotiate with that (in mind) we would loan the two seats, including the PNM. Any political party, no matter who it is.”
The THA is usually allocated around four per cent of the national budget – the minimum agreed to by the Dispute Resolution Committee.
The PDP has been on a robust community drive fixing damaged fishing boats, doing roof repairs, home renovations and in some cases, building wooden houses.
Duke, describing himself as a servant of the people, previously acknowledged the initiative was political but noted politics was about people and the PDP was putting people before politics.
He reiterated this message on his Facebook video.
“This is how we campaign during the covid19 period – restoring people’s lives, making people happy. We are not in the talk, talk, talk talk. PNM has done enough of that, (PNM Tobago West candidate) Shamfa (Cudjoe) has done enough of that,” he said,
Duke said the community improvement projects have been well received.
“The residents of Tobago West are very happy. They have not seen anything like this.”
Duke said constituents have complained about the distribution of food cards, lack of jobs.
“Tobago must have economic independence. The man on the ground, his standard of living must appreciate.”
The PNM has accused the UNC of funding the PDP but Duke said the project was being funded through savings and contributions from the public.
Last week, UNC PRO Anita Haynes said her party was not interested in going into general election 2020 as a member of any coalition.
Asked, if necessary, the UNC would join with a Tobago party to form the next government of TT, Haynes said her party is optimistic of winning at least 25 seats in Trinidad and was not thinking about a coalition.