PM: Speaker must first declare seat vacant before I can call by-election date
Persad-Bissessar spoke at the Monday Night Forum of the United National Congress (UNC) at the Gasparillo Composite School.
Persad-Bissessar did not respond to any of the statements that Jack Warner made at a public meeting on Sunday, instead, she assured supporters that the party remained strong. Rules as well as due process will be followed, she said.
Warner, since tendering his resignation as Chaguanas West MP on April 26 has started an intense re-election campaign—without waiting for for the party to approve him as the UNC candidate to contest the seat.
Persad-Bissessar said she wanted to set the record straight and that every member of the party has the right to seek the nomination for the by-election in the constituency.
The UNC, she said, was a disciplined party that follows the rules.
“Our philosophy is that if we cannot do it right in our own party, then we cannot convince the electorate that we are fit to govern. So our party will do what is right,” she said.
In accordance with the rules, Persad-Bissessar said the party’s screening committee will determine who the candidate for Chaguanas West will be.
“This is your party and we work for you. And every member including the political leader must follow the rules. No one member is bigger or more important than the party,” she said.
Warner, in his public meetings so far has professed his unwavering support and love for the Prime Minister but warned against a group of Ministers whom he claimed was giving her bad advice.
Persad-Bissessar, in turn, last night said that every member of the UNC was loved.
However, she added “We love every single member and every single citizen of our great country but, we love our country more than any single individual.”
The Chaguanas West by-election she said was not an issue last night because the Speaker is yet to declare the seat vacant although the MP had resigned on April 26.
“Let us not get ahead of ourselves. When the Speaker declares the seat vacant our national executive will meet and work out the details and I’ll announce a date for that election,” she said.
“Today our party is stronger than ever, our partnership remains strong and united. So let the PNM start their campaign. Even if they put up Rowley as the candidate, he would lose his deposit,” she said as she urged the people of Chaguanas West to not be troubled.
The Prime Minister also spoke to her recent official visits to the United States and Canada.
She said in the United States, she attended numerous meetings, including one with US deputy of State Williams Burns and discussed essential matters affecting Trinidad and Tobago and the region, including the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
That law, she said, was part of the US effort to combat tax evasion by US citizens holding overseas investments.
The Prime Minister said she stressed the need for the US Government to do more to assist Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean countries, in the fight against the illegal drug trade and help was on the way.
The lack of information with respect to criminal deportees from the US to Trinidad and Tobago was also discussed as a promise was made to fix this problem.
Persad-Bissessar emphasised that this country’s relations with the United States were strong.