The Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) is not fearful of fighting fresh to resolve the constitutional deadlock in the THA, the PDP’s deputy Farley Augustine said yesterday.
This was in response to the Tobago Council of the People’s National Movement’s (PNM’s) call for fresh elections “as soon as is feasible.”
In a statement yesterday, the PNM did not say when the new polls are likely to be held.
Instead, it said Parliament, the Elections and Boundaries Commission, the Assembly and Tobagonians would be involved in the process that would not be “hasty.”
The release said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley indicated, “the government is ready to approach Parliament to fix whatever problem the Tobago House of Assembly has.”
However, the PDP said it wants the matter resolved sooner than the proposed “indefinite” period suggested by the PNM. The PDP said it will head to the court on Monday for the court’s interpretation of the law.
Augustine told Guardian Media, “We want an interpretation of the procedures to be followed at this time (and)…use the law and prescribed procedures to make our way out of this.
The party also stands ready for dialogue with the PNM to resolve the matter, Farley said.
He said the PNM should be the ones afraid of returning to the poll as it “lost more in the THA election than it gained and is clearly losing ground.”
“Between 2017 THA and 2021 THA, the PNM had 22 votes less and four seats less. Meanwhile, the PDP enjoys 5,261 more votes and four seats more. In five months, between the General Elections last year August and THA elections, we gained 2,431 votes.”
The PNM and Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) won six seats each in the January 25 THA elections.
The result was unparalleled in the island’s history and the THA Act did not provide a solution for a scenario in which parties did not agree on a presiding officer.
The Presiding Officer is responsible for selecting the Chief Secretary after nominations and votes by elected assemblymen.
In the Assembly Chamber on January 28, the PDP suggested the assemblymen resort to the national constitution on the matter and cast lots.
However, the PNM was not willing to do that.
All 12 assemblymen were sworn in on January 28 by President Paula-Mae Weekes.
The existing Executive Council, which includes some persons rejected at the THA polls, remains in place to run Tobago’s administrative arm of government.
Meanwhile, the PDP’s former 2020 General Elections Tobago West candidate Tashia Grace Burris has started an online petition to attract 10,000 signatures asking Parliament to amend the THA’s Act to allow eligible voters to choose the presiding officer and Chief Secretary.
She tells Guardian Media, she began the petition in an unofficial capacity after calls from citizens to do something to prevent the PNM from remaining as the island’s Executive Council “undemocratically.”