Tracy Davidson-Celestine has officially re-entered the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) after being sworn in as a councillor today, this time as Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development.
Presiding Officer of the THA Vanessa Cutting Thomas convened a special sitting of the House at Jerningham Street, Scarborough, formalising the appointment.
Celestine, who was elected as the leader of the Tobago Council of the Peoples National Movement (PNM), replaced Kelvin Charles in the party’s internal election held in January.
Following the internal election, several senior party officials called on Charles to step down. Charles, in turn, called on Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack to step down after he (Jack) lost in his bid to replace Charles as political leader of the party.
The party’s internal squabbles seeped into the island’s governance system as the weekly Executive Council meetings were put on hold. The THA Executive Council is comprised of Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles and secretaries of the THA.
On February 11, Charles and Davidson-Celestine hosted a press conference where they announced that both parties met and Charles made a decision to step down with effect from April 30, “in the best interest of the party.”
Davidson-Celestine also announced that she would be appointed as a THA Councillor with effect from March 2, describing the two months as “the period of transition.”
While the appointment reintroduces the former Costa Rican Ambassador to the THA, she will not be able to assume the position of Chief Secretary, as only an elected member of the house can serve as Chief Secretary based on the tenets of the THA Act No 40 of 1996.
Her appointment, however, saw one of the previously appointed Councillors removed in order to facilitate her appointment as the party holding majority seats in the THA is allowed only three Councillors.
Former Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development Dr Agatha Carrington absorbed that blow when she resigned on February 28, to coincide with the assumption of Davidson-Celestine.
As the party undergoes its “transition” the islands awaits the announcement of which if the elected members of the THA would be appointed as Chief Secretary when Kelvin Charles’ resignation takes effect at the end of April.
That person will hold the position for the rest of the current term, which ends in January 2021. Tobagonian are also anxiously anticipating the party’s next move as reports reaching Guardian Media Limited indicate that an Assembly shuffle is impending.
The other two Councillors appointed under the Kelvin Charles administration are Leader of Assembly Business Kwesi DesVignes, who is the Secretary of Infrastructure Quarries and the Environment, and Secretary for Tourism, Culture and Transportation Nadine Stewart Phillips, who asked to be excused from the sitting.