Duke: PDP assemblymen will meet with PM

Watson Duke -
Watson Duke -

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) leader Watson Duke said the party's six assemblymen will attend a March 3 meeting called by the Prime Minister. The meeting was announced in a statement by the Office of the Prime Minister on Sunday, noting Dr Rowley's intention to meet the 12 recently-elected assemblymen.

Duke was speaking at a press conference on Monday at the Public Services Association (PSA) headquarters on Abercromby Street, Port of Spain.

During the press conference, which was streamed live, Duke received a phone call from Minister of Finance Colm Imbert. After initially having the minister on loudspeaker, Duke spoke to Imbert privately after he requested confidentiality.

“We will attend the meeting once we have an agenda,” said Duke during the brief phone conversation. “Give us notice and an agenda and we will definitely attend.”

Duke later told Newsday the conversation was in fact about the meeting in Tobago with Rowley next week. Imbert could not be reached for comment.

Duke said he was hoping the government would listen to the views of the PDP.

“Our views are equally important as the PNM's,” he said. “If they do not create an environment for the hearing of the PDP views, then certainly we will not be in a position to engage them. We will walk out of the meeting.”

PDP deputy leader Farley Augustine on Sunday called the meeting a publicity stunt. Augustine said Dr Rowley should have convened a meeting of the 12 assemblymen before laying the THA (Amendment) Bill which was passed in the Lower House.

Before the phone call with Imbert, Duke said he was not happy with the PNM's treatment of the working class since 2015.

“Before the PNM came into office, (they) were holding the hands of trade-union leaders. They were very union-oriented.”

He said the government once held one of the largest marches in Port of Spain to protest the previous government making laws to protect their friends.

“That same government is today making a law so their friends in Tobago can escape. Who will lead a march against the government for tampering with the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) act and creating 15 seats illegally?”

The Tobago House of Assembly (Amendment) Bill 2021 was debated in the House of Representatives last Friday.

Rowley said the amendments would provide a democratic solution to the six-six deadlock resulting from the January 25 THA elections.

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