The THA’s Assembly Legislature building, Jerningham Street, Scarborough. (Image: CAMILLE McEACHNIE)

The impasse to select a Presiding Officer for the Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA) term scheduled to begin on January 28, 2021, resumed on February 1, as voting continued along party lines resulting in a deadlock.

The first attempt to elect a Presiding Officer began on January 28th after the 12 Assemblymen—six People’s National Movement (PNM) and six Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP)—were sworn in by President Paula-Mae Weekes.

The PDP and PNM had won six seats each at the January 25 THA elections.

At the first sitting of the new Assembly, the PNM proposed Ingrid Melville and PDP Julien Skeete, for the post of Presiding Officer.  That January 28 vote was deadlocked.

On Monday February 1st, when the assemblymen met to begin the process again, all 12 members supported their respective choice for presiding officer.

After two rounds of voting by secret ballots and two public, the Assembly’s Clerk, Merna McLeod, asked if the Assemblymen would agree to take a break.

She took this decision after assemblymen Ancil Dennis and Tracy Davidson-Celestine made the suggestion.

Dennis asked that the leaders of the two major parties hold a weekly meeting on the way forward.