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Disgraceful anti-Tobago lobby

A certain amount of pique is to be expected from supporters whose parties ended up on the losing side of the recent Tobago House of Assembly ( THA) election. But when disappointment turns to downright disrespect it is time to draw the line.

The people of Tobago have spoken in clear, unambiguous terms about which party they prefer to govern the affairs of their island for the next four years. Whatever the disappointments of others, democracy requires that their position be respected and accepted. If anything, Tobagonians must be congratulated for their high level of participation in the elections and for their willingness to engage the issues affecting the future of their country.

It is not for anyone to attempt to punish Tobago by pitting Trinidadians against Tobagonians.

This newspaper condemns in the strongest possible terms those sore losers who are attempting to inflame the situation by sowing seeds of discord and animosity between the people of our twin-island republic.

What is particularly galling is to see leaders of national stature among those willing to sow division among our people. As is so often the case, when we most need wisdom, we find it sadly lacking in our leaders.

The recent THA campaign was particularly acrimonious, tainted at times by the spectre of race and separatism. But, for all the distasteful aspects involved, wise leaders would understand the need to quickly build bridges and heal the nation's spirit in the interest of unity and progress.

Instead, far too many leaders seem to be willing to demonise Tobagonians for exercising their constitutional right. One hopes that the people, in their own wisdom, will reject this dangerous anti-Tobago lobby.

As the people of a unitary state, we have lived together for over 100 years. Tobago's self-protective instinct against an over-dominant Trinidad has long been a feature of this relationship.

There is nothing exceptional about this. All over the world, this is the experience of conjoined islands who share a central government and for whom the terms of association are in constant negotiation.

Clearly, Tobago and Trinidad are yet to find that happy medium between them. This, indeed, is the basis for the pending constitutional discussion regarding Tobago's autonomy within the framework of a unitary state.

With the dust of the THA election beginning to settle, this is the core issue to which we must now address our minds.

This is not an issue for just political leaders or their parties but for all the people of Trinidad and Tobago who have a vested interest in the future of the unitary state.

Threatening Tobago in a fit of pique is infantile, reckless and damaging to the welfare of our people who must live, love and work together.

We urge those stoking the fires of disharmony to desist and to exercise restraint in defeat. Our people deserve a higher quality of leadership.

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