PNM sticks with 15-seat proposal to resolve THA deadlock

PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracey Davidson-Celestine at a recent press conference in Tobago. - Jeff Mayers
PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracey Davidson-Celestine at a recent press conference in Tobago. - Jeff Mayers

THE draft proposal to end the impasse of the deadlock of the Tobago House of Assembly will see an amendment to create 15 seats.

Speaking at the PNM’s General Council meeting at the Government Campus on Saturday, Tobago Council leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine said after years of consultations it was agreed to change the 12 seats to 15 and Tobago had been seeking to have this done for some time.

"Old people will tell you if you do the same thing over and over and expect different outcome, that is a recipe for madness. This situation tells us we need to make changes if we want to move away from a deadlock from a two-party electoral process in Tobago."

She added that since the Tobago Autonomy Bill was sent to Parliament, the Tobago arm of the PNM had been urging for changes to the current system. If the amendments were approved, the bill would have allowed for the THA to settle the deadlock without having to bring the matter to Parliament, she said.

She said the PNM's Tobago arm is steadfast  about returning to the polls and wants to do so with the 15 seats. She agreed that the THA Act needs to be amended to facilitate that.

“We cannot go back to the people with 12 seats, and what we have now is 15 seats. The 15 did not come out of a hat. It came out as many as seven years of consultations with the people of Tobago which they put forward in the Tobago Autonomy Bill.”

On Wednesday the Prime Minister proposed Parliament amend the act to break the current deadlock after the six-six tie in the January 25 THA election. Dr Rowley said he had legal advice from Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and a senior counsel on the issue.

Since the deadlock the PNM and Progressive Democratic Patriots’ (PDP) have failed to select a presiding officer. The PNM had nominated Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) chairman Ingrid Melville and the PDP nominated Division of Sports and Youth Affairs officer Julien Skeete. Each party rejected the other’s candidate. A third attempt also failed.

While the THA’s incumbent executive council remains in place, without a presiding officer, there is no one to oversee the election of a chief secretary to constitute the assembly, inclusive of four councillors.

The PDP intends to launch a legal challenge to resolve the deadlock and has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to cover its legal expenses.

General secretary of the party Foster Cummings said in commemoration of the party's 65th anniversary the PNM will be having an essay competition open to schools as well as preparing a documentary which is expected to be completed by March.

The PNM celebrated 65 years on January 24.

The celebration will include commemorating all the leaders of the party.


"PNM sticks with 15-seat proposal to resolve THA deadlock"

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