PM to miss Europe leaders summit

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses an agriculture invesment forum in Guyana in May. – Photo courtesy Office of the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister will miss his planned meeting with European leaders later this week as he is still in the Los Angeles, California, where he has undergone a series of medical tests.

A government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, as they were not authorised to speak to the media said Dr Rowley was expected to return to TT by the end of the month. There was no update on the results of his medical tests.

On May 22, Dr Rowley speaking to the media after his return from a Caricom meeting in Guyana said he had been specially invited to attend the European Summit in Brussels between June 23-24, to be held at the Council of European Union, at the Rue de la Lio, in Belgium.

He said he had delegated Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne to lead this country’s delegation to Kigali, Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting during June 20-25 as it clashed with the European meeting.

CHOGM was originally scheduled for June 20-27 in 2020 but was postponed twice owing to the covid19 pandemic. TT is one of the 54 members of the Commonwealth countries and hosted the CHOGM in 2009.

In response to a query, Browne in a WhatsApp response said on Saturday, “Everything in is in place for the full participation of the TT delegation at the CHOGM in Rwanda, led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Caricom Affairs.”

Asked whether another government representative will represent TT at the European summit in the absence of the Prime Minister, Browne said, “That invitation was for the PM specifically.”

Browne and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young had accompanied the Prime Minister to California. They returned on June 12.

Rowley, 73, visited California for the ninth Summit of the Americas on June 6 and following the conclusion on June 10, he met with his team of doctors there.

A brief statement from the Office of the Prime on June 12 said, “Dr Rowley is scheduled to undergo routine medical testing in the coming weeks which includes cardiac and prostate analysis.” There has been no update to the public since then. The Opposition has raised the prolonged absence of the prime minister on the political platform in the face of the controversy surrounding the Attorney General who was disqualified from a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by the government in a Miami court.

Senior government officials said the Prime Minister was expected back home by the end of June.

In March 2019, Rowley went to California for heart tests, after doctors found a plaque build-up in one of his arteries during an earlier check-up in 2016. The 2016 visit included tests for prostate cancer, for which he was given a clean bill of health. Rowley got another clean bill of health from tests done in 2019.

He previously said the doctors in California had been treating him for nearly three decades. Rowley did not go to California for any medical check-ups over the last two years because of the covid19 pandemic.

Last January, Rowley was warded briefly at the West Shore Private Medical Hospital, Cocorite, after complaining of discomfort.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert will continue to act as prime minister until Rowley returns.