PNM Tobago Council leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine believes a return to the polls is the best solution to end the current political 6-6 deadlock in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). The stalemate – the first in the 40-year history of the THA – occurred after the PNM and Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) shared the seats evenly in Monday's THA election.
Davidson-Celestine believes a return to the polls “as soon as feasible,” is the only constitutional solution.
The PDP has made it clear it will resist any attempts at a fresh election.
At Thursday's post-inauguration media conference, Augustine said he was willing to flip a coin for the leadership of the THA.
But in a release on Friday, Davidson-Celestine said, “To us, this is a straightforward solution.
"We won’t gamble with Tobago’s future in a coin toss. Essentially, (PDP deputy) Farley (Augustine) and (PDP leader) Watson (Duke) are saying they want to bet on people’s lives with a coin toss.”
She added, “Farley continues to misspeak and is clearly not familiar with THA Act.
“Our people deserve better. Democracy dictates that the people have the right to make this decision for themselves. Any administration must have the approval of the majority of the electorate. This is why the PNM, even with the popular majority, is willing to go back to voters – we must let the people choose.
“What is Farley and Watson so afraid of? Let Tobago decide.”
She claimed Augustine was "flip-flopping” on legislative reform through the Parliament and on his suggestion that the party with the popular vote should govern.
She added the coin-toss suggestion "raises major red flags about the PDP’s ability to lead."
On the deadlock which resulted in an inability to elect a presiding officer, Davidson-Celestine said the legislative arm of the THA cannot function, although the administrative arm remains in place.
“This situation has revealed a fundamental defect in the THA Act. The only way to fix this is through an amendment by the Parliament. The people of Tobago have spoken and we are here to listen. So let Tobagonians decide.”
She noted this process will not be a “hasty” one.
“It will involve the Parliament, the Elections and Boundaries Commission, the Assembly, and, of course, the people of Tobago.”
The PNM said the PDP has not contacted the party.