We get no respect from party elders
By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, July 29 2012
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YOUTH VOICES: Diego Martin Central MP Dr Amery Browne walks past members of the constituency's youth league during a protest demonstration outside of ...
The People’s National Movement (PNM) has long taken pride in its ability to contain internal rumblings. But yesterday, the PNM’s defences were let down when members of the Diego Martin Central Youth League staged a protest during the general council meeting at Balisier House in Port-of-Spain.
The group turned up outside the party’s headquarters to complain about the party’s perceived inaction in dealing with the fact that several executive members were prevented, by certain members of the league, from voting during constituency elections earlier this month.
The youth league’s chairman, Mikhail Garcia, told Sunday Newsday the matter constituted a breach of the democratic process.
“They are seeing us as young people and not respected members of the party,” Garcia said, accusing several members of the constituency’s executive of “trying to railroad them for their personal benefits.”
Garcia said the group had written “a lot of letters to the hierarchy of the party and, unfortunately, we have not gotten any response.”
Diego Martin Central MP Dr Amery Browne, who attended yesterday’s general council meeting, lent solidarity to the protesters. Browne said he had asked PNM political leader, Dr Keith Rowley, to intervene in the matter, but to no avail.
“I support these young people. We cannot speak out on injustice only in some places,” Browne said.
PNM vice-chairman Camille Robinson-Regis yesterday confirmed the issue was discussed at the general council meeting, but said it was an internal matter.
“We want to ensure that, that is really an internal matter of the Diego Martin Central constituency that has had some ventilation at the level of our central executive and at the general council. It is really a matter that has to be solved by the Diego Martin Central constituency executive,” she said.
Robinson-Regis also responded to claims by the league that the party had not taken a definitive position on the issue.
She said: “That is not entirely so, in that there were two attempts made for the youth league of Diego Martin Central to have their elections and I think those attempts came to nought, the matter was brought to the central executive and the body of the party, which can discuss those issues, tried to resolve those issues. We then asked the Diego Martin constituency to deal with those matters because it really is a matter internal to the Diego Martin Central constituency.”
Robinson-Regis said the party does not operate in a high-handed manner
“What we can do, and this is what we did, was listen to both sides of the issue and the decision was taken for Diego Martin Central to resolve the issue internally,” she added.
Meanwhile, the general council yesterday overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to remove National Security Minister Jack Warner from the Cabinet in the wake of findings of the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which revealed that the minister had administered a secret account in which he mixed personal and football funds. The findings of the court were reported exclusively in Newsday last week.
Robinson-Regis read the two-page resolution, which also referred to several other controversial matters in which Warner had been named. The resolution also strongly condemned Warner’s stated position that he will not respond to any concerns raised by the Opposition and media on any of the matters.
Robinson-Regis said the resolution was unanimously agreed to “in keeping with the protection of the public interest, the protection of the international image of Trinidad and Tobago and also in keeping with her (Prime Minister’s) promise of good governance.”
Opposition senator Fitzgerald Hinds regarded the controversies surrounding Warner as “a threat to the democracy” of Trinidad and Tobago.
“We consider this to be a threat to the democracy, the stability and well-being of Trinidad and Tobago, just like the events of the July 27, 1990. It is as serious as that. It goes to the heart of governance and that is why this resolution calls for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to resolutely and stoutly defend against this serious threat to good governance in Trinidad and Tobago. The party has rallied in this way so this is rather exceptional,” he said.