Nothing has changed in the leadership of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) as Ashworth Jack remains at the helm of the party.
This was confirmed yesterday as the TOP and Jack broke their silence in the wake of the party's 12-0 defeat to the People's National Movement in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election on January 21.
Jack, along with party officials, stated their position on the way forward for the TOP and its leader at a press conference at the party's headquarters in Scarborough, where it was disclosed that Jack had handed in his resignation last week but it was not accepted by the TOP's Island Council.
Jack resigned on February 1, but only on Monday handed in his resignation to the Island Council, the highest decision-making body of the party, along with the youth arm, the women's arm and various TOP action groups.
Members of the Island Council met Monday evening at the party's headquarters.
"And the members voted overwhelmingly to refuse Mr Jack's resignation and to support him continuing being the political leader of the TOP," Jack said.
In the midst of questioning by the media of Jack and party chairman Lionel Coker, TOP members interrupted the reporters and Jack had to intervene.
"No, no please, could we please allow the media to ask their questions, without interruption," said Jack and the press conference continued.
As to the future plans of the TOP, Jack said the party is still reevaluating what went wrong and why it suffered such a humiliating defeat in the THA poll.
Jack said he did not want to speculate or pinpoint any one reason.
"It will be very premature if I start giving details as to exactly what ... I can guarantee you this, that the TOP is here to stay," he said.
Asked to comment on why Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was not at his side on the night of the election, Jack said he instructed the PM not to come to the party's headquarters.
"The Prime Minister asked to come to the party's headquarters and I advised her against it. I did meet with the Prime Minister later in the evening at Coco Reef, we did have a conservation."
While he admitted he did not expect to lose the election by such a wide margin, Jack repeated that he takes full responsibility for the TOP's loss, but now it is time to move on and rebuild the party.
He noted he remains void of any emotion over him and his fellow candidates losing their seats.
Jack also said he vacated the office of THA Minority Leader two days following the election and the keys were handed back.
In response to Jack retaining his post as TOP leader, Platform of Truth leader Hochoy Charles said the TOP could never be reinstated in Tobago.
Charles said the people of Tobago would never trust the TOP, as that party remains an agent of the United National Congress (UNC), which leads the ruling People's Partnership coalition.
"The TOP is insulting the intelligence of the people of Tobago and remains a disgrace to the island. In fact, the TOP is teaching persons to be both ignorant and backward," said Charles.
As to whether he is an agent of the PNM, Charles said the present THA Chief Secretary (Orville London) is the head of Tobago and while he will not meet with the PNM, he will meet with the present leader of Tobago, "to discuss Tobago people business".