Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday welcomed back to the House of Representatives Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner. The two did not greet each other, but the Prime Minister threw out an olive branch.
“The Honourable member is no stranger to this House. We on this side look forward to positive contributions and support from him,” the Prime Minister said.
Warner sat with his head bent as the Prime Minister spoke.
Earlier, he had taken his oath of office, following the House Speaker’s announcement that he had received correspondence from the acting Chief Elections Officer Ramesh Nanan about the results of the Chaguanas West by-election.
Dressed in an olive green suit, Warner, who previously sat right next to the Prime Minister (on her right), now sits next to St Joseph MP Herbert Volney. Volney wore a green tie, and behind Warner sat his petite wife, Maureen, also dressed in a green skirt and matching top.
In her statement to the Parliament, the Prime Minister said the Fourth session of the Tenth Parliament came following one of the most hotly contested by-elections in the country’s history. “What we witnessed over the past weeks were, in my view, democracy in action, is a tribute to our nation’s founding fathers who enshrined in our Constitution, the rights that the people demonstrated and the freedom to join a party of their choice and elected the people they consider best qualified to represent them in this august chamber,” she said.
The Prime Minister said the legislative agenda would include more anti-crime measures, public procurement legislation and the Disposal of Public Property bill, as well as the Juror Amendment bill. Noting that just this week rival gangs were shooting in Port of Spain East, she said the anti-gang law must be enforced. She said she had asked the Attorney General to find additional ways to deal with the crime problem.
The Prime Minister said road safety must also be addressed, as drivers continued to speed with impunity, to talk on cellphones and endanger the lives of others. She said she had asked the Minister of National Security and the Minister of Transport to tackle this problem because too many young lives were being lost. She said just last week Cabinet was asked to agree to the installation of speed-trap cameras across the country. She said the Government was also addressing the issue of health care and would be building several hospitals.
The Prime Minister said Government planned to deliver on the pledges of constitutional reform, including fixed election dates, term limits for the Prime Minister and the right of recall for MPs—before the next general election. She said she looked forward to the support of all MPs on this exercise.
Among MPs who greeted Warner were Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Stephen Cadiz, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, Lyndira Oudit, Winston Dookeran, Faris Al-Rawi, Ganga Singh and Fuad Khan, as well as several Independent senators.
The House adjourned to a date to be fixed.