CLAIMING government officials have met with reputed gang leaders to broker a peace pact by offering them lucrative contracts, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is seeking confirmation from the Prime Minister.
Failure to confirm or deny will result in a request being made under the Freedom of Information Act, Persad-Bissessar said during her party’s Monday night Virtual Report in San Fernando.
Newsday is still awaiting a response to messages sent to National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds about Persad-Bissessar’s claims.
Addressing crime, which has recorded a staggering murder toll to date, which she said was worrying to everyone, Persad-Bissessar said she had received several messages on WhatsApp about the meeting with gangsters.
“In those messages, I am being told operatives of the People’s National Movement (PNM) have called in gang leaders, and they are offering contracts to these gang leaders to have a ceasefire because they want to end the crime.
“That is not the way, so, I call on Government to tell us if it’s true. If that is true, we will file a freedom of information question to find out who they have given these contracts to.
“I find it very disturbing, as all law-abiding citizens, that they are offering gang leaders contracts.”
She responded to a reminder from the audience, “Yes, Mr Manning had done it. You are right,” in reference to reports of a 2006 Crowne Plaza meeting between Patrick Manning, then prime minister, with reputed gang leaders to make peace between them.
There were reports that Austin Jack Warner, national security minister in Persad-Bissessar’s administration in 2012, also sent representatives from his ministry to hold talks with gang leaders in Laventille.
Persad-Bissessar said under her administration, community policing in fighting crime, which former prime minister Basdeo Panday put fully into effect, was continued, but as for the present administration, “They killed it.
“Fighting crime has to be a holistic fight. You have to fight it before, during and after.”
She said all preventative measures have been discontinued under this administration and called on the Prime Minister and his Cabinet not “to cry crocodile tears now.
“They tear down everything – the GATE, the laptop, everything to help children in this country they have shut down.” Grants for university study through GATE (the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses Programme) have been limited by the PNM administration.
While Persad-Bissessar was prime minister, laptops were given to secondary school pupils.
Persad-Bissessar reiterated her call for migrant children to be allowed to attend local primary schools.
She also announced that the United National Congress (UNC) will hold its national congress on December 4 at the Couva South Hall, from 2.30 pm.
She also said nominations for the party’s Youth Arm elections will be reopened from November 23 and close at 4 pm on December 16. She encouraged young people to collect their forms and get involved.
Both the Youth Arm and Women’s Arm elections are scheduled to take place on January 15, 2003.
“We have completed the constituency and the NATEX (national executive) elections; now we will do these two arms of the party. Let’s get involved and let's put a full party structure in place."