“Charles should step down.”
This is the view of political analyst Shane Mohammed who spoke to Newsday on Monday about the internal PNM wrangling persisting after its elections.
On January 26, TT’s Ambassador to Costa Rica Tracy Davidson-Celestine defeated the former political leader and current Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles in a runoff, with the backing of defeated leadership candidates Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack and former THA presiding officer Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus. Davidson-Celestine created history in becoming the first woman to lead the 22-year-old council by securing 3,050 votes while Charles got 2,042.
Mohammed said Charles should have resigned forthwith.
“You have the Chief Secretary as an Assemblyman, the political leader sitting outside and it would have been expected that because he lost political leadership of the Tobago Council that it would have been in his best interest or it would have been the moral or right thing to do, to at least tender his resignation and see whether or not it would have been accepted, considering that he had lost the leadership,” he said.
He said the party’s constitution needs amending as it is his understanding that it says that the political leader of the Tobago Council, once the PNM is in control of the THA, the political leader becomes the Chief Secretary.
“That is the first problem. They now have to figure whether or not and how or when are they going to ratify and amend that aspect of their constitution, which is probably if you look at it, the ethos of where this whole now problem lies”
Mohammed said the continued infighting does not augur well for the ruling party.
“At the end of the day, it is a mess, a mess that destabilises the PNM Tobago Council.”
He added, “In an election year, knowing that Tobago has suffered many misgivings under the PNM administration, I don’t think that this has made them stronger; this has now caused people to second guess whether or not… if you can’t get your own house in order, then how we expect that you would govern us in government or even as MPs. It translates, it’s a process, it’s a step by step process and one follows the other.”
Mohammed said a Charles resignation is not the end of his political career.
“If Mr Charles resigns as Chief Secretary it does not prevent him from holding a position as Secretary of something else.
“There is also the argument that Mr Charles is the Chief Secretary of all of Tobago. Granted that he is the Chief Secretary of all of Tobago, on whose ticket did he win?
"This is where the connection lies and while it is that people are arguing that he did not lose the confidence of all of Tobago, he lost the confidence of the PNM membership… the fact remains that he won on a PNM ticket electorally and by virtue of that, he got that mandate through the political arm of the PNM system, which is that the PNM membership were the ones that gave him the first mandate to become the political leader, so one follows the other, if you’ve lost the mandate to become the political leader of the PNM Tobago Council then it says to me and says to any right thinking person, you’ve lost the confidence of the people that elected you as Chief Secretary, so he therefore should resign.”
A Trinidad Express report on Monday said eight members of the Assembly petitioned Presiding Officer Vanessa Cutting-Thomas to call a special sitting on Friday to move a motion of no confidence in Charles.
Mohammed said: “If he loses this motion of no confidence, what is he doing to his political career?"
The analyst said although the consensus on the ground is that Charles is a good man, he might not be the leader PNM wants.
“And I say that’s a good thing. Nothing is wrong with being a good man but being a good man doesn’t necessarily mean being a good leader. We have had good men serve as leaders of our country, but had they been (good) leaders? No.”
The political analyst recalled the 2016 runoff when Charles won against Davidson-Celestine and believes Tobago was not ready back then for a female political leader of the PNM.
“With all the developments that has taken place not only in the region but in the world at large, where we have seen women rising and taking leadership roles even at the very young age of 34 in Finland, then it is a domino effect across the world. Women are rising and they are in some instances proving to be better leaders than men and that is something that Tobago is probably ready for.”