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State of emergency “panic” reaction

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State of emergency “panic” reaction

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PORT-OF-SPAIN – Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley today said the coalition People’s Partnership government had panicked and the decision to impose a limited state of emergency in Trinidad and Tobago underscored the fact that it had no plans to deal with the rising crime situation in the country.
“Our initial thought is that this is a panic response which has not been the product of any serious deliberations,” Rowley said on local radio here.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said that the limited state of emergency would be for “hot spots” across the country from midnight, as her administration battled to deal with an upsurge in criminal activities that included the murder of 11 people over a 48 hour period.
 “The situation cannot continue like this without a response commensurate with the wanton acts of violence and lawlessness; it must be a response as well that will halt the current spike in gang activity and crime in general in the shortest possible time.
“After much deliberation with the National Security Council and members of the Cabinet, it has been agreed that the government consider the imposition of a limited state of emergency in hot spots across the country,” she said.
But Rowley said that on Saturday, the leader of Government Business in the Parliament, Dr Roodal Moonilal, had informed the nation that a state of emergency was not being considered and it was a not a response the government would be considering.
“That was Saturday, it was the very same day that the Opposition revealed that the Government needs to respond to what in effect is an escalation [of the crime situation].
“Within 24 hours the government is in fact implementing something called a limited state of emergency. As I am speaking to you now, I don’t know how it will be operationalised, I don’t know what limited means,” he said, adding “until the government tells us in detail how this thing is going to work, we are still unclear.”
Rowley said that the Opposition “had opened the door” for talks with the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration on dealing with the crime situation, but “clearly the government did not think that was useful…and the government has gone ahead and done something”.
“The government has not said there is any consideration for any legislative response, but we said that in the event that the discussions had generated the need for a legislative response or anything that would bring about swift justice…we will support.”
He added that “before the government could even give us the courtesy of a response or a phone call, the government goes ahead and effect a series of emergencies across the country in a scatter shot way.
“We don’t even know what communities will qualify and what will be the criteria to say a community qualifies to be under a limited state of emergency and other does not. These are all concerns that we need to get answers to,” he added. (CMC)