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Analyst: PM, Kamla must compromise

CLINT CHAN TACK Monday, July 17 2017

PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar must make compromises to each other if the serious issues facing the country are to be addressed in a meaningful way. This was the view expressed yesterday by political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath, 48 hours before Rowley and Persad-Bissessar meet at Tower D of the Port-of- Spain International Waterfront Centre at 2 pm.

Ragoonath told Newsday that he is not particularly optimistic that the meeting between Rowley and Persad-Bissessar will bear the results which the population is demanding at this time. According to Ragoonath, the Government and the Opposition continue to be very much “in election mode.” He said both sides are constantly attacking one another and the burning issues in TT are not being dealt with. “On both sides, there has been very little compromise by both leaders,” Ragoonath said.

He added that Rowley and Persad- Bissessar must each make compromises on behalf of their respective sides, to give the population a semblance of hope that their concerns are being dealt with. Referring to the agenda outlined for tomorrow’s meeting, Ragoonath said the Prime Minister has shown there is a need for Government and the Opposition to have consensus on key legislative matters either before the Parliament or to be brought to the Parliament.

He said tomorrow’s meeting could be an opportunity for Rowley and Persad-Bissessar to get an insight into what their thoughts are on those matters. Ragoonath said one issue which urgently needs some level of bi-partisan consensus is the difficulty within the Judiciary, especially the imbroligio which arose from the appointment of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers Caesar as a judge and her subsequent resignation from that post.

The Prime Minister has previously not ruled out the possibility of reconvening Parliament to deal with legislative matters which could require a special majority for passage. Parliament is currently on recess and officially due to resume in September. However Parliament can be summoned during its recess if urgent matters arise. Ragoonath said the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) issue seems to be dragging on indefinitely. He opined that the time may have come for Government and the Opposition to reach a consensus upon a solution. Rowley has repeatedly said the Government will maintain the “Great Wall of China” between itself and the Judiciary. He also said Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi will advise the Government accordingly in this matter.

On July 6, a statement from the Office of the President announced the resignations of retired Appeal Court justices Humphrey Stollmeyer and Roger Hamel-Smith from the JLSC. Neither Stollmeyer nor Hamel-Smith gave any specific reason for their resignations. Chief Justice Ivor Archie, the JLSC chairman, has rejected calls from certain quarters for him to resign. Sunday Newsday yesterday reported that retired master of the Supreme Court Ralph Doyle is President Anthony Carmona’s choice to fill one of the two slots in the JLSC left vacant by the resignations of Hamel-Smith and Stollmeyer.

Newsday understands that neither Rowley nor Persad-Bissessar will be bringing large delegations to tomorrow’s meeting. A statement issued on July 15 by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said Persad-Bissessar would be invited to bring a note-taker with her to the meeting. Newsday understands that the Prime Minister will only be accompanied by a note-taker as well. Other items on the agenda to be discussed are internal self-governance for Tobago; campaign finance reform; the Integrity Commission; Anti-Gang legislation; a Code of Conduct for parliamentarians and the effectiveness of service commissions.

The Opposition holds its Monday Night Forum meeting in Siparia tonight at the Tulsa Trace Hindu School in Siparia from 7 pm. Persad-Bissessar is expected to speak more about her meeting with Rowley, in addition to other matters.



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