Round three of negotiations to finalise a temporary power-sharing arrangement of Tobago between the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) began yesterday, with the PDP insisting the Finance Secretary position must be one of those it holds.
This was the position of PDP deputy leader Farley Augustine after the party met on the PNM’s counter-proposal yesterday.
The PDP had initially proposed that it would provide candidates for Deputy Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary, two councillors and half of all other executive positions. It said the PNM would receive the Chief Secretary, Presiding Officer and one councillor and half of all remaining executive positions under this arrangement.
The PDP made the power-sharing proposal on March 3 when all 12 assemblymen met with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at the Magdalena Beach Grand and Golf Course to discuss a way forward following the 6-6 tie in the January THA elections.
But on Wednesday, the PNM counter-proposed by offering the PDP the Deputy Chief Secretary and Deputy Presiding Officer position. It also noted it intended to fill the Chief Secretary and Presiding Officer posts and four secretarial positions. However, the PNM said the PDP’s request to have two councillors was not in keeping with the THA Act.
Yesterday, however, Augustine told Guardian Media the party does not intend to have a Minority Council leader.
“We intend to lead as an equal,” Augustine said.
Before the PDP’s new proposal, however, the PNM said it was ready to hammer out the arrangements.
In an interview with Guardian Media yesterday, PNM Tobago Council leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine said: “Our basis for negotiations is to come together to share in the administration of the island. (We recognise) the stalemate and for the finalisation of Tobago’s determination, which will trigger a fresh election. We maintain we must return to the polls and let the people decide.”
On the PNM’s counter-proposal, she said, “Our proposed terms and conditions are an amalgamation of our ideas and some put forward by the PDP. We hope the process can move forward quickly in a spirit of civility, fair play and within the bounds of the law as provided for under the current THA Act.”
Davidson-Celestine said the PNM had some concerns with some of the PDP’s proposals, chief among them being that they wanted the Finance Secretary position, “but all these elements can be hammered out at the negotiating table.”