Kamla to Rowley; Call the election in Barataria and Belmont East, or face the Court

Political Leader of the United National Congress and Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP, has once again made good on her promise to the people of this country to fight the wicked Rowley PNM in the Parliament, outside the Parliament and in the Courts. On Monday 9th April, 2018, Mrs. Persad- Bissessar issued pre-action protocol letters to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, signaling her intention to challenge in the Courts the continuing failure of the Rowley Cabinet to declare two local government seats – Barataria and Belmont East, vacant and to advise Her Excellency to call the elections to elect new councillors.

The constituents of these two electoral districts have remained unrepresented for eight months in the case of Barataria and four months in the case of Belmont East following the unfortunate passing of the two PNM Councillors, Mr. Pernell Bruno, councillor for the electoral district of Barataria, who died on 8th July 2017, and Mr. Darryl Rajpaul, Councillor for Belmont East, who passed away on 18th November, 2017.

On Wednesday July 26th, 2017 the Chairman of the San Juan Laventille Regional Corporation declared the seat of the electoral district of Barataria vacant, however; since the death of Councilor Bruno, no step has been taken either by the Minister of Local Government or the Cabinet to satisfy the President that the seat of the Councilor for the electoral district of Barataria has become vacant and to advise the President to exercise the power to issue the writ addressed to the Returning Officer of the electoral district of Barataria for the election of a new Councillor. The same applies in the case of the late Councillor Mr. Rajpaul.

Mrs. Persad-Bissessar is acting on behalf of two registered electors in each electoral district who are seeking to challenge the unlawful action of the Rowley Cabinet. Mrs. Persad-Bissessar stated that the unlawful action of the Rowley Cabinet has undermined and continues to undermine our democracy.

“The failure of the Cabinet to act in accordance with the constitution and the law has resulted in a subversion of the rule of law and this action cannot be allowed to continue to the detriment of thousands of constituents who remain unrepresented,” Mrs. Persad-Bissessar stated in her letters.

The Proposed Claimants seek to challenge the unlawful action of the Rowley Cabinet on the grounds that the inaction of the Cabinet in failing to act in accordance with the constitution and the law is illegal, being in breach of section 1 of the Constitution, and amounts to an abuse of power by this administration. In addition, the inaction of the Cabinet is contrary to law, is illegal, amounting to a breach of section 4 (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and is unlawful.

On behalf of her clients Mrs. Persad-Bissesar noted that “The Supreme Court is the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution and to this Court is assigned the delicate task of determining what is the power conferred on each branch of Government, whether it is limited, and, if so, what are the limits and whether any action of that branch transgresses such limits. It is for the Court to uphold the constitutional values and to enforce the constitutional limitations. That is the essence of the rule of law”. She stated that this was the jurisdiction that the proposed Claimants were prepared to invoke to seek relief against Dr. Rowley and his Cabinet.

Mrs Persad Bissessar called upon the Rowley Government to act within the next seven days or face the Courts.

The UNC Political Leader’s letters to the Attorney General are underpinned by the hallowed words of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council[1] that “Irresponsible Unaccountable Government is the antithesis of the democratic model upon which the State of Trinidad and Tobago is founded”.