Tobago Forwards leader Christlyn Moore poured cold water on Minority leader Watson Duke's arguments challenging the election of Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis.
Duke and the rest of the Minority walked out the Assembly Legislature on Wednesday prior to the swearing in of Dennis, 33, the youngest-ever chief secretary. Dennis replaced Kelvin Charles who resigned from the post on April 30 after losing the PNM Tobago Council leadership.
Duke has threatened legal action against the Assembly and the office of the Presiding Officer for convening the special sitting to elect Dennis. Arguing the THA Act does not address the convening a special sitting to replace a chief secretary who resigned, Duke said the Minority has retained the services of a senior counsel and an instructing attorney to look into the matter.
Additionally, Duke said he was disturbed that Charles was also stripped of his title as secretary of education, innovation and energy.
Speaking via a social media live on Thursday, Moore described Duke's interest on Charles' demotion as "fake sympathy.
"Quite frankly, we are charged as politicians, as leaders with the responsibility of fighting for people. So, yes, I understand and honour Duke's need to fight for people however, I don't remember Kelvin Charles asking him for no help. Kelvin Charles and his organisation has internally organised their business to bring about such an end as this. They have not sought nor do they need Mr Duke's help, it is curious that Kelvin Charles has not gone to court in his own defence, yet here is Duke going to court for what... to ventilate what, to vindicate whom, it can't be Kelvin Charles."
She said the court is there for everyone.
“It’s there to vindicate all rights and the door is not closed, even on a weak argument, the door is not closed.
“In my view, the Duke argument is weak because it seems to be predicated on the fact that the THA Act does not provide for resignations and as such, since it does not provide the presiding officer his or her hands are tied… there is no position in law that you cannot resign...so therefore you are (able to) resign any position at any time.”
Moore: Dennis a 'placeholder'
Moore said Dennis' election as chief secretary was simply a "moving around of puzzle pieces" before the THA elections next year.
"The moment that Dennis is enjoying is not a win...This moment is really the moving around of puzzle pieces to facilitate the actual leader of the Tobago PNM (Tracy Davidson-Celestine) to eventually move herself into the spot, a position that she cannot do now because there has been no internal co-operation."
Moore predicted more PNM internal rumblings as the THA elections draw closer.
“The sting might come in the tail when we are told which district she is running for, and then Mr Dennis may really be stinging from a different playbook, but it is clear that we are moving pieces around this chess board to really set up an eventual situation and Mr Dennis is no more, with the utmost of respect to the goodly gentleman who I respect and have cordial relations with, at this point in time, Mr Dennis is no more than a placeholder, he can’t do much.”
On January 26, Charles lost the leadership of the PNM’s Tobago Council to Davidson-Celestine, now Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development, in the party’s runoff election. Asked to resign by his new leader, Charles initially refused but announced at a press conference on February 11 he would comply.
Moore said, “This is politics and I think I more than anyone else knows how difficult it is when political decisions are made notwithstanding competence. I have been on the receiving end of that, but the reality is over and above the person’s personal interest. If you really say that you’re a member of this organisation, then you’re in for thick and thin, you’re in for good and bad and while a particular decision may affect you personally today, you are, I think, a member of this organisation for the long haul.
"So you can’t look at these things with a microscope, you really have to look at these things with a telescope, so that I don’t feel personally that Mr Charles was treated any better or any worse than any political actor that his own people rejected… that is an indictment on him.”