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Tobago Chamber: Power-sharing in THA illegal

Martin George & Company > Interviews  > Tobago Chamber: Power-sharing in THA illegal

Tobago Chamber: Power-sharing in THA illegal

The Tobago Business Chamber has said any form of power-sharing between the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) and People’s National Movement (PNM) in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) will be illegal, because the law simply does not allow for such an arrangement.

On Wednesday, the the Prime Minister held a meeting with 12 elected THA assemblymen in an affort to end the six-six deadlock in the THA.

At the meeting, the PDP proposed an interim power-sharing arrangement until a solution to the impasse is arrived at.

The PDP offered to give the PNM the positions of chief secretary and presiding officer, while it will settle for deputy chief secretary along with two of the three councillors allocated to the executive. The remaining secretarial positions would be split down the middle.

The PNM is considering the proposal and is expected to respond in a week.

But in a WhatsApp voicenote on Thursday, the chamber’s president Martin George said any power-sharing arrangement in the assembly will be null and void.

“There is absolutely no provision within the law for any such power-sharing arrangement,” he said.

“So therefore you are actually being suckered into chasing down a rabbit hole in this. You would end up like Alice in Wonderland, because there is no legal basis for any such arrangement.

“You look at the THA, even in its present form. We look at the THA Act, in its proposed amended form, which amendments we passed in the House of Representatives and Senate. There is no provision for this.”

George wondered what would be the procedure for appointing the Minority Leader and secretaries.

“How is this arrangement supposed to work?”

He said while the PDP’s proposal is commendable in trying to find a solution to the impasse, “The reality is that it is not practical,and it is not something that is ever going to last in this type of marriage situation they are contemplating. It is going to be infidelity from the start…no one is going to really want to stick to this arrangement if it is that the other side will have a chance at one-upmanship, and that is what is constantly going to be occurring here.”

He also said given the absence of any legal structure, any citizen would be able to challenge the arrangement and have it struck down as illegal.

“So it will be an illegal marriage.”

He said the assemblymen could not be so naive to believe that such an arrangement will work.

“That is never going to happen. It is like you are hoping for some disharmonious unity to occur between the parties.”

George said while one understands the frustrations of the parties, one must also be realistic.

He said he has constantly advocated strict adherence to the provisions on the statute books.

“At present. the THA Act is very clear. It does not provide for this scenario, and this scenario, I think, can be easily struck down if anybody challenges it.”

Instead, he said, “I would encourage the parties to look to the law…and let’s try to have some strict adherence to the legal provisions. Otherwise you will find yourself ensnared in a trap.”

He added: “I think the PDP ought to recognise that it is really a trap they are being suckered into because if it is there was any genuine desire by the Government to have this as their working solution they would have done so before going to the Parliament and passing legislation.

George urged other Tobagonians to be wary of the development.

“Let’s not go down this merry-go-round that they have been led, where this game of musical chairs is supposed to be played out with your turn today, my turn tomorrow.

“That can never work with both sides eyeing each other suspiciously and each one holding their long knives behind their backs waiting for a chance to pounce. That’s the reality of politics.

“So let’s not kid ourselves that this is going to be a kumbaya moment where persons are going to all hug and kiss and say for the sake of Tobago we are promoting one love.”

George said politics is by nature contentious and confrontational.

“That is how it has been and I can’t see a realistic possibility of that changing magically overnight.”

Contacted on Thursday, PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine would only say the PDP’s proposal is being reviewed.

“We are examining all possible options at this time,” she said.


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