Members of the Tobago Council of the People’s National Movement (PNM) are awaiting resolution from the Parliament for the deadlocked Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections.
The political leader of the Tobago Council, Tracy Davidson-Celestine, who attended yesterday’s PNM general council meeting at the Government Campus Plaza in downtown Port-of-Spain, said the Tobago arm has not reached out to the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) about the deadlock.
“We are at this point where we are waiting on feedback from the PDP in terms of how we are moving forward,” she said.
Last Wednesday, PNM political leader Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said that two draft amendments were headed to Cabinet and then Parliament for debate.
The two parties are locked at the first stumbling block, the election of a THA presiding officer. The chosen presiding officer will have a casting vote and could vote in the selection of the Chief Secretary, which is why neither party wants to give way.
“We really don’t expect that there will be any significant change in terms of that position,” Davidson-Celestine said.
One of the proposed amendments will give a person authority to resolve the THA deadlock and the second will increase the number of Tobago seats from 12 to either 13, 15 or 19.
Davidson-Celestine yesterday said after discussions with the Tobago people in the past, 15 seats would work.
“I have indicated our support from the Tobago Council of the PNM and I am sure I can speak on behalf of the Chief Secretary in this particular exercise. We have been very consistent in our position in that we must go back to the polls,” she said.
Davidson-Celestine said that would be the most democratic process.
“We are in support of the Prime Minister’s position that we need to amend the THA Act and two, we need to take cognizance of the fact that we cannot go back to the Tobago population with 12 seats,” she said.
She said they were considering 15 seats as opposed to the existing 12.
“The 15 did not come out of a hat. It came out over a period of four, five maybe as many as six years of consultations with the Tobago public,” she said.
She dismissed the suggestion from Senior Counsel Martin Daly that Tobago revisit the polls but without the changes to the electoral districts.
“We are not taking the advice of the Senior Counsel,” she said. “We are more concerned with what Tobagonians have said.”