The Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) has pledged its support for its leader Watson Duke who is also leader of the Public Services Association (PSA) union.
In a press release the PDP said, “While the PNM continues to amass wealth for its ministers, families and friends, and continues to place the masses in positions of perpetual generational poverty, the PDP stands in unreserved solidarity with our political leader, Mr Watson Solomon Duke in his fearless audacity to challenge the wrongs and ills of the established elite, and in his determination to return the patrimony of this nation to its people, inclusive of the right for internal self-government for Tobago.”
The release said the PDP “strongly condemns the recent attempts to besmirch the character" of Duke by "social media assassin agents of the People’s National Movement (PNM)."It said these attacks had been amplified and accelerated since the PDP’s victory in six seats in the January Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.
It added that since 2015 there has been an “apparent bitterness” in the minds of the PNM, as Duke began having an impact on the political landscape of Tobago, which “resulted in a number of frivolous accusations laid against Mr Duke, escalating to serious criminal charges.”
“This PNM-sanctioned harassment" did not deter Duke from assembling "12 of Tobago’s finest" to launch the PDP and contest the 2017 THA election, it said. Since then, it declared, the party had "championed the cause of the people of Tobago in their just and legitimate demand of internal self-government and superior and honest governance.”
When it won two seats in 2017, that broke the PNM's “totalitarian" hold on the THA, that "fuelled further hatred," the party claimed.
It said its minority voice in the assembly finally gave the people of Tobago bold representation, and among other things, it had highlighted the "woeful inefficiencies" of the seabridge, demanded the resumption of the bus service in Tobago East, led to the introduction of Central Bank services in Tobago, and saw a new, improved market.
It said the PDP's presence in the THA further infuriated the PNM, as it could no longer "mismanage" Tobago without disturbance.
The PDP asked whether the PNM was afraid of "the imminent victory" of the PDP when Tobago returns to the polls, that Tobagonians had "embraced Mr Duke as a worthy son of the soil to lead them to the promised land" or the "imminent arrival of the PDP in Trinidad to upset the status quo."
Speaking with reporters during a tour of the Shirvan Housing Development site last Tuesday, Tobago PNM leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine said PDP deputy political leader Farley Chavez Augustine “must come clean.”
She said he had criticised her “for allegedly being corruptly involved" in the zipline or the canopy tour project, but had not made any clear statements about scandals involving his own leader.
Davidson-Celestine said the people of Tobago will have to decide “whether they want Watson Duke to continue in office as a member of the THA and eventually the leader of the PSA, because we are all seeing what is being played out in Trinidad at this point with the allegations.”
She said quite a number of PSA members were asking for him to step down "because of irregularities that have been reported.”