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Camille McEachnie

The Tobago Council of the People’s National Movement (PNM ) says its membership voted resoundingly last Wednesday to share governance of Tobago temporarily with the Progressive Democratic Patriots(PDP).

That is until the passage of The Constitution (Amendment) (Tobago Self-Government) Bill (2018) triggers fresh elections.

The PNM hailed its party’s move as revolutionary, saying it was a change in its long standing policy of governing alone. It said the spirit and intent of the law would govern the joint arrangement.

The release yesterday comes one day after the PDP sent the PNM a counteroffer outlining what positions it preferred if unity talks are to continue.

The PDP proposed the two parties share Tobago’s governance at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on March 3 at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort.

It came more than a month after the 12 Assemblymen were unsuccessful in convening the assembly.

They made three attempts to do so on inauguration day– January 28, three days after the Tobago House of Assembly elections resulted in a six/six tie for both parties.

Both parties have indicated their preference in secretarial and other positions.

The PNM says it wants to submit candidates for Chief Secretary, Presiding Officer, two councillors, and half of the remaining secretarial posts.

The PDP said it remains interested in the post of Finance Secretary and is not interested in forming the Minority Council as it does not hold fewer seats than the PNM.

PDP says it invited the PNM for face-to-face talks next Tuesday

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UNC on Tobago Self-Government Bill

The PNM’s proposal hinges heavily on the passage of the Tobago Autonomy Bill that requires Opposition support.

Guardian Media reached out to the UNC for comment.

One of the UNC’s deputy leaders, David Lee, said the party would wait to see the final bill before supporting it.

He said the party is unsure what changes the Joint Select Committee (JSC) will make.

Explaining the position further, UNC’s public relations officer Kirk Meighoo said the party would examine the legislation “carefully.”

“ The UNC has a long and proud history of fighting for and advancing Tobago’s autonomy,” he claimed.

He said the United Labor Front supported the THA Act in 1980.

Last month, the PNM piloted changes to the THA Act to increase the number of electoral districts from 12 to 15 and break the THA deadlock. The Tobago Amendment Bill (2021) passed in the Lower House and Senate.

JSC’s members include persons from the PNM, UNC, and independent benches.

They are Camille Robinson- Regis (chairman), Dr Varma Deyalsingh, Dr Maria Dillon-Remy, Jerlean John, Renuka Sagramsingh- Sookal, Nigel De Freitas, Clarence Rambarat, Dinesh Rambally, Rudranath Indarsingh, Shamfa Cudjoe, Faris Al-Rawi and Foster Cummings.

The committee has until May 2021 to present its recommendations to Parliament.