PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday the Government will charter a Caribbean Airlines jet aircraft to attend memorial services in South Africa for that country’s former president Nelson Mandela.
Mandela, 95, died at his home in South Africa on Thursday.
Persad-Bissessar spoke to reporters yesterday afternoon, during one of her annual Christmas parties and gift give-aways for children at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar, Arima.
Today, the Prime Minister repeats the exercise in Port of Spain.
Speaking to reporters, she said she and a delegation leave Trinidad and Tobago for South Africa tomorrow.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and his wife, Sharon, have also been invited to attend the memorial service for Mandela with the Prime Minister.
“I go in capacity as the Prime Minister of our country and chairman of Caricom,” Persad-Bissessar said. “And in this regard, I’ll speak to the other Caricom heads, so that’s happening now and we are asking for those who wish to accompany us.”
She explained heads of state have been invited to South Africa for services that are expected to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday but, “it is a very long journey and what we have proposed to do is charter Caribbean Airlines to take us”.
“The traditional way is that you fly north and come back down south which takes you two days, but we would not get there in time, but if they charter a flight, it will take us one day to get there and it will allow us to reach in time,” she added.
She said: “It will be very rushed, and I thought this (memorial for Mandela) would have been later in the week but it is not.”
She added there had been a lot of delays with regard to flights leaving London, England, and this created a backlog, and there has been a cold front in the United States which has caused delays out of that country.
“So this seems the best option, and I had consulted with Dr Rowley prior to making this decision and he had no objection,” she said.
People’s National Movement (PNM) senator Faris Al-Rawi will accompany Rowley.