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Sunday 15 September 2019
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New political entity in Tobago

Political analyst maintains wait-and-see approach

Dr Bishnu Ragoonath
Dr Bishnu Ragoonath

Political scientist Dr Bishnu Ragoonath is maintaining a wait-and-see approach to the emergence of a new political entity in Tobago. Ragoonath said the three parties - Tobago Forwards, The Platform of Truth (TPT) and Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) - do not have "any (political) footing (in Tobago) at this point in time."

He said this is not the case with the Kelvin Charles-led People's National Movement (PNM) and Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), led by Watson Duke.

The PNM controls ten seats in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) while the PDP controls two, Roxborough/Delaford and Speyside/L'Anse Fourmi/Parlatuvier

As such, Ragoonath said, the parties' attempt to make an impact on the Tobago electorate could be difficult.

"What we have with the Tobago Forwards, the Platform of truth and the TOP, these three parties together are small parties. At present, they don't have any political constituency to speak of, so to speak," he told Newsday.

"They don't have any say in the assembly (THA) as clearly in the national politics, they are not yet there."

The leaders - Christlyn Moore (Tobago Forwards); Ashworth Jack (TOP) and Hochoy Charles (TPT) - have been meeting with Tobagonians since April, under the banner of the Tobago Liberation and Empowerment Team, to discuss the future of the island.

On Sunday, the leaders formalised their arrangement during a news conference at Rovanel's Resort, Store Bay Local Road, Crown point. They are currently working on a structure, name and symbol.

The leaders are also pushing for a system that allows Tobagonians to speak with one collective voice.

Head of the Department of Behavioural Sciences at the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies, Ragoonath said while the decision by the three entities to come together may be a good thing, they still must consider the other splintering parties.

"So, one could ask whether this move is good for the people of Tobago, whether they see the future in the hands of Christlyn Moore, Ashworth Jack and Hochoy Charles or whether they see it more in the hands of Duke or the PNM."

"Really and truly, we will have to see how the Tobago people react to this, although there was that notion for the coming together of the parties in opposition to the PNM, if they are to wrest control of Tobago away from the PNM," he added.

The leaders have planned a series of public meetings, beginning on May 25 in Roxborough. They also plan to visit Canaan/Bon Accord, Moriah and Plymouth.

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