Kamla Persad Bissessar (FILE)
PORT OF SPAIN – The main opposition United National Congress (UNC) has denied any involvement in any plot to assassinate Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley or members of his administration, describing the allegations as “a last-ditch, desperate attempt to fool the electorate” ahead of the next general election in 2020.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar, in a statement, said that the allegations were akin to those made in the so-called e-mail gate scandal, when in 2013, Rowley, then Opposition Leader, told legislators that he had received in December the previous year, a total of 31 emails, from a “whistle blower” indicating how operatives within the government had sought to undermine those institutions including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the media. He said he had passed them on to the Office of the President.
The police earlier this year ended their probe into the “emailgate” without laying charges against anyone.
In her statement, Persad Bissessar said that Prime Minister Rowley is aware that he cannot win the next general election “fair and square” and “from the producers of Emailgate comes a last-ditch, desperate attempt to fool the electorate in 2020 with a sequel”.
Rowley, speaking at a public meeting of his ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) last Friday, linked opposition operatives to a plot to assassinate Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and warned the population of Trinidad and Tobago that they should not consider the threats to be a joke.
“Understand what we are dealing with in this country. I tell you this not because I am being irresponsible, because I want you to know (and) you can’t say you don’t know. I want you to know because I am the Chairman of the National Security Council,” Rowley added.
He also disclosed that in 2015, “On two occasions they hired a killer to kill me. The first killer refused and determined that somebody has to know this and went and told a government official. The government official came and told us. We told the police.”
During the public meeting, National Security Minister, Stuart Young, spoke of a “disturbing” pattern being observed involving known members of the UNC) and the members of the criminal underworld.
Young, indicating that he was coming out of the Parliament where he could have been afforded parliamentary immunity to make the statement, said that he had been informed that “very high ranking members of the opposition, the UNC opposition, at the highest, highest levels . . . are engaging in active conversations and communication . . . with the criminal elements in our society.
“I stand here tonight without fear of contradiction to tell you that at the highest level of the opposition they are engaging the criminal elements,” Young, who is also an attorney said, pointing a finger also at sitting opposition members of both houses of Parliament.
Newsday newspaper Monday quoted Police Commissioner Gary Griffith as confirming “Al-Rawi and Rowley’s lives were at risk and the necessary precautions were taken to protect them”.
He told the newspaper that he received “a few months ago”, the report of the threat against Al-Rawi.
But in her statement, Persad Bissessar said that Rowley and the ruling party are “in panic mode they will throw the entire kitchen sink of lies because they believe that is the only way that they can win.
“They will not speak about job creation instead they will focus on lies about emails and murder. They will not speak about the thousands that have been killed under their watch instead they will tell you that they needed special branch protection. Who protected the thousands who died under Stuart and Rowley?”
The Opposition Leader said that she has no “intention of falling for these distractions and distortions who wants to go and watch Mission Impossible Rowley style good luck with that.
“I wish to wholly condemn the latest round of wild scandalous allegations of an assassination plot made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on his political platform on Friday October 18, 2019,” Persad Bissessar said, adding ”these allegations are baseless and are being made for the purpose of fear-mongering and scoring cheap political points”.
She said the latest talk of assassination plots “bears the hallmark of Dr Rowley’s wild, irresponsible, ranting and dangerous style of politicking, which has long been his trademark”.
“It is a return to his emailgate style of politics, make wild accusations with no evidence and hope that something sticks. In the past, when he served as a mere mouthpiece for the PNM, he was easily dismissed as attention-seeking by the population.”
She said Rowley was moving to revive his “dying political career,” adding “the fact remains that this is the first time Dr Rowley has mentioned these alleged plots, even though he has been through several national elections since they were allegedly made in 2015”.
“The question on the lips of people, now, therefore, is simply— why now,” she added. (CMC)