Three weeks after losing the leadership of the People's National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council to Tracy Davidson-Celestine, Kelvin Charles has announced he will step down as Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary at the end of April.
He also announced that Davidson-Celestine is to made a councillor in the THA from March 1.
Charles and Davidson-Celestine held a joint news conference at the PNM's Scarborough headquarters on Tuesday at which they vowed to work towards a smooth transition of leadership as the party prepares for the upcoming general election and the THA election, constitutionally due next year.
The news conference came three days after members of the party's hierarchy in Trinidad met in Tobago with the four candidates who contested the leadership in the council's January 19 internal election. Davidson-Celestine beat Charles in a runoff election the following week. Charles said after Saturday's meeting, he met with the political leader on Monday "as we defined, more clearly, the path forward in respect of transitioning."
"We have agreed that, in the interim, there will be regular meetings between Davidson-Celestine and myself so that we both can be kept apprised of the happenings at the level of the party and at the level of government," he told reporters.
Charles, who just days ago, vowed to remain as Chief Secretary until his term ended next year after Davidson-Celestine called for his resignation, said he was not bullied into stepping down.
"In coming into politics, one is usually guided by a set of principles and philosophies. We operate a democracy and, for me, the issue has always been whether or not there will come a time when the needs of the many would outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. And therefore on that basis, it was not difficult to arrive at a place where we are now."
Davidson-Celestine, whose resignation as TT's Ambassador to Costa Rica takes effect on February 29, said Charles' handover as Chief Secretary begins immediately and ends in April.There has been speculation that Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack will be given the nod to become Chief Secretary.
Jack unsuccessfully challenged Charles in the PNM internal election and then endorsed Davidson-Celestine in the runoff against Charles.
The new PNM leader said the election of a new Chief Secretary is clearly defined in the THA Act.
"With regard to the election of a new Chief Secretary, as dictated by the Tobago House of Assembly Act No 40 of 1996, Section 8, the assemblymen shall elect from among their number the Chief Secretary, who, in their estimation, commands the support of the larger number of assemblymen.
Therefore, I, as political leader, will commence discussion with the assemblymen with a view to determining such."Davidson-Celestine, a former Speyside/L'Anse Fourmi/Parlatuvier representative, said as councillor, she will also become a secretary in the THA but "the details will be conveyed to the public at a later date."
Davidson-Celestine also did not say which of the three current councillors in the Assembly she would replace. She added the appointment of any other councillor will be announced at a later date.
"By the end of the month that information will be shared with the public."There have been calls by political analysts and the Progressive Democratic Patriots for the PNM to get its house in order and return its focus to governance.
Davidson-Celestine said she is pleased the party has returned to some level of normalcy.
"We have been having discussions since our elections on January 26, 2020, and so we are now at the place where we are all comfortable."
The process, yes, it might have been a very long one. But, at the end of the day, I would have considered it to be one where all of the decision-makers would have had an opportunity to share ideas and concerns and chart the way forward."
Meanwhile, Davidson-Celestine said the ceremony to install the 17 members of the PNM's new Tobago Council executive has been postponed to a date to be fixed.The installation was expected to take place on Sunday at the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment, Old Government Farm Road, Shaw Park.