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Thursday 19 September 2019
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[UPDATED] Rowley: ‘Elections now’ call to prevent more arrests

The audience at Conversations with our Political Leader at City Hall in Port of Spain on Thursday night. PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI
The audience at Conversations with our Political Leader at City Hall in Port of Spain on Thursday night. PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI

THE PRIME Minister said calls for elections to be held now were not about governance but to get into power and prevent what happened last week from happening again.

He was speaking on Thursday night at Conversations with our Political Leader at City Hall, Port of Spain, and referring to the arrest of former minister and Port of Spain South MP Marlene McDonald who, together with her husband Michael Carew, has been charged with corruption.

He referred to the comments by Progressive Party political leader Nikolai Edwards, who at a media conference on Thursday criticised PNM members for feeling sorry for McDonald.

"I kid you not."

Rowley said calls that the Government collapsed and that elections should be called now were being made in the hope that utilising (now-defunct controversial British political consulting firm) Cambridge Analytics attacks, "They will get into the corridors of power, and this is the last you would see of what you saw last week."

He added: "Why we are not entirely unhappy about this development is because we see in it the system that we want to work in this country, and it is a system where, if there is wrong, you will be held accountable for it."

He said while people were attributing many things Government was doing to the upcoming elections, elections will be called when they are due.

Rowley said the location of the meeting was in the Port of Spain South constituency and the party was there to commiserate with constituents: "To share your pain, hurt and anger."

He said no one wants to know that the person selected and elected as MP becomes of interest to police, especially someone holding the rank of minister, "But these things happen from time to time."

Rowley again described the time line of events surrounding McDonald and the Calabar Foundation allegations.

"I wish my colleague well. I wish her well in her defence. And I know that she will get a fair trial. This is TT."

He said after the arrest the story being "fed" was that the Prime Minister showed bad judgement and should call elections because the country was in crisis.

"I, as our Prime Minister, in this day and age, (am) supposed to instantly fire a minister of government because I see something on Facebook. And if I say that I am waiting on the police to confirm the state of affairs, I am tardy, I am an abdicator.

"Well, I want to tell (political commentator) Ralph Maraj something – when I abdicate any responsibility of mine, I do it soberly. With sober reflection."

Rowley said he took criticism in good spirits and had received worse.

He said with hindsight, since charges were laid against McDonald, he is being asked by elements of the media whether he thinks he should have appointed her.

"I want to ask all of you divorcees outside here: now that you have been divorced, do you think you should have married that person? You can only act on the best information at the time, and as things change later on you are required to act."

He asked if the arrest of one PNM MP, while a tragedy, was a crisis, "What would you call the reign of terror of the Kamla Persad-Bissessar government?"

He cited the passing of the Section 34 amendment, the arrests of former attorney general Anand Ramlogan and senator Gerard Ramdeen, and, on the issue of judgement, the appointment of Reshmi Ramnarine as head of the Strategic Services Agency.

Yet Persad-Bissessar, he said, "has the gall to go outside a rum shop and say the Prime Minister has bad judgement."

St Ann's East MP Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, in her opening remarks, said it had been an emotional week for the party, and many members ran the gamut of emotions.

But, she said, "Amid the cries that the Government collapsed and 'Call elections now,' I saw the solidarity of the PNM family. That didn't surprise me. That is typical of PNM people."

This story was originally published with the title "PM: 'Elections now' call to prevent another arrest like Marlene" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


THE PRIME Minister said calls for elections to be held now were not about governance but to get into power and prevent what happened last week from happening again.

He was speaking on Thursday night at Conversations with our Political Leader at City Hall, Port of Spain, and referring to the arrest of former minister and Port of Spain South MP Marlene McDonald who, together with her husband Michael Carew, has been charged with corruption.

He referred to the comments by Progressive Party political leader Nikolai Edwards, who criticised PNM members on Thursday for feeling sorry for McDonald.

"I kid you not."

Rowley said calls that the Government collapsed and that elections should be called now were being made in the hope that utilising (now-defunct controversial British political consulting firm) Cambridge Analytics attacks, "They will get into the corridors of power, and this is the last you would see of what you saw last week."

He added: "Why we are not entirely unhappy about this development is because we see in it the system that we want to work in this country, and it is a system where, if there is wrong, you will be held accountable for it."

He said while people were attributing many things Government was doing to the upcoming elections, elections will be called when they are due.

Rowley said the location of the meeting was in the Port of Spain South constituency and the party was there to commiserate with constituents: "To share your pain, hurt and anger."

He said no one wants to know that the person selected and elected as MP becomes of interest to police, especially someone holding the rank of minister, "But these things happen from time to time."

He said with hindsight, since charges were laid against McDonald, he is being asked by elements of the media whether he thinks he should have appointed her.

"I want to ask all of you divorcees outside here: now that you have been divorced, do you think you should have married that person? You can only act on the best information at the time, and as things change later on you are required to act."

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