THE DUKE FAMILY: PDP leader Watson Duke with his wife Kim and their son and daughter at the opening of the new office. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI –
FOUR months after demolishing the once-mighty PNM 14-1 in the December 6, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections, Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke has cast his eyes across the water towards Trinidad.
Speaking at the launch on Sunday of the PDP’s Trinidad office at Second Street in Barataria, Duke said the PNM and the UNC are of no concern to him as he sets his sights on national elections and having the PDP in the Red House.
The opening had all the makings of a Carnival band launch with moko jumbies, fire breathers, soca artistes, tassa and an open bar.
“The PDP is not a force nor do we want to be a force. The PDP is a political revolution, that’s what the PDP is. We are not a force and we are not in competition with Gary Griffith, or the PNM or the UNC,” Duke said.
Duke said he is not interested in forming any coalition or alliances with any political party including Griffith’s soon-to-be launched National Transformation Alliance (NTA).
Griffith, the former Police Commissioner, is also targeting national elections and says he wants to challenge Prime Minister Dr Rowley for the Diego Martin West seat, which he has held for several years.
PDP supporters during the opening of the party’s Barataria office on Sunday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI –
“The PDP does not believe in coalitions. They have not worked and they leave a sour taste in the mouths of the people after they are formed. They have won elections yes, but they cannot last.”
Duke said that the PDP is open to is any person from any political party, giving up that political association and joining with the PDP. “That’s how we do it. It is one commander in chief, one army, one mission. We do not believe in a dichotomy of missions and interests. We are not into any coalition whatsoever.”
Duke said he plans to continue the momentum the PDP gained in Tobago adding the party will contest every election, including the local government elections set for November, and the general election in 2025. He said the nation has been calling for change.
Wendell Martin, who said he travelled from Arima to be part of the launch, said he came to support the PDP and change in political ideologies.
“What happened with the THA started something in the nation that Duke can make a difference and a change,” Martin said. A woman who did not want to be identified, claimed she had voted PNM for the past 30 years but saw no progress in her community of Barataria. She believes now is the time to give the PDP a chance.
Asked about cases before the courts and if they can end his ambition to become prime minister, Duke said:
“Herein lies the silver lining in the dark clouds. The media saying this, the courts saying that, but what are the people who are evaluating me daily, saying? They are saying, ‘we want Watson, we want Watson, we want Watson.’ And I say, who the people set free, is free indeed.”
Duke is currently on $250,000 bail after being slapped with charges in 2016.
Alania Quow, who attended the launch, said she supports the PDP because the country needs a change and she is fed up of both the PNM and UNC.
PDP IN TRINIDAD: Moko jumbies cast a Carnival-type atmosphere during the launch of the PDP’s office in Barataria on Sunday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI –
Her friend who only wanted to be identified as Tia, said: “Right now, the PNM tried but they didn’t do anything for me. UNC? Back step for them…they hadda stay in the back.”
Duke said he will be canvassing in San Fernando on Monday as he continues his push for the PDP to make a dent in national politics.
Duke has been walking and meeting residents in the San Juan and Barataria areas in the past three weeks.
He said he is considering organising a massive protest against the increase in fuel prices as announced by the Finance Minister on Friday.
“We have started a political revolution that began east of Tobago in Speyside, Roxborough and swept all of Tobago. Now we are starting in Trinidad. The movement continues, the political revolution continues, we have to change the status quo,” he said.