T&T: Coalition government remains strong
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 6, CMC – The four-party coalition people’s Partnership government says it remains strong even as it weathers the storm that followed the controversial decision of the early proclamation of certain sections of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act that critics say had been designed to allow two party financiers of the government to walk free on fraud charges.
A statement issued from the Office of the Prime Minister said that the four leaders met earlier this week and that the “ties among its four coalition partners have been reinforced and strengthened” after the political leaders “reaffirmed the commitment of their individual parties and to the alliance” and the leadership of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar.
The statement said that the “leadership meeting of the partners validated the unswerving commitment of the leaders of the United National Congress (UNC), the Congress of the People (COP), the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) and the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) to an alliance driven by mutual respect and common goals”.
The coalition has been rocked by the early proclamation of Clause 34 of the act that resulted in the main opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) and other non government organisations staging a protest march culminating in a petition being presented to the Acting President Hamel Smith, who later described the legislation as being “flawed”.
The government was forced last month to call an emergency session of parliament to repeal the controversial clause that had the effect of allowing people, whose trial has not started after a 10-year period to walk free and a verdict of not guilty.
Opposition legislators say the clause was aimed at supporting businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, who are facing fraud and laundering charges relating to the re-development of the Piarco International Airport in 2001. They are also wanted in the United States on a number of related charges.
Their attorneys have petitioned the local court to have the charges against them dismissed citing Section 34 of the Act.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar has fired her justice minister Herbert Volney, a former High Court judge claiming that he misled the cabinet on the issue, but theopposition have called for the dismissal of the Attorney general Anand Ramlogan as well.
In the statement, the coalition said that resolutions emanating from the meeting included the convening of a special meeting of the chairmen of the four coalition partners, which would be held before the political leaders of the People’s Partnership next meeting.
“It was also agreed that leadership meetings of the partners of the People’s Partnership would be held each month and on a more regular basis to facilitate and maintain a stronger relationship among members of the alliance.
“It was also established that the senior executive of each of the four coalition partners would engage in a leadership meeting of the partnership twice a year,” the statement added.