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Kamla: Pick TOP to choose self-govt

Internal self-government for Tobago is a guarantee if the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) is victorious in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election on Monday, says Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

"On Monday when you go to vote, I ask you to make this a referendum of internal self-government. If you want internal self-government, then vote for the TOP," Persad-Bissessar said at a TOP public meeting in Mount Moriah on Thursday night.

Persad-Bissessar piloted the Constitutional (Amendment) (Tobago) Bill 2012 which was debated in Parliament on Wednesday.

However, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said the Opposition would not support the bill in its current form, which requires a three-quarters majority of Parliament.

Persad-Bissessar chided Rowley, pointing out that no other Opposition MP contributed to the debate other than Rowley, who she said was confused in his presentation.

She noted the Opposition did not support the proposal to increase Tobago's territorial boundaries from six nautical miles to 11.

"He (Rowley) didn't know anything about maritime law and law of the sea and was confusing the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with the territorial waters," she said.

"He's saying about 200 miles, but friends, you might end up in the territory of Venezuela if we listen to this man.

We are known as an archipelagic state, and so we have an exclusive economic zone of 200 miles, but territorial waters are different," said Persad-Bissessar.

"Therefore, the sovereign nation of Trinidad and Tobago has the 200-mile limit... but should Tobago...200 miles off the EEZ, where would you put Trinidad; would Tobago then fall into Grenada waters? Will Tobago fall into Toco, go down South into San Fernando? Rowley totally misunderstood the difference between territorial waters and maritime exclusive economic zone," she added.

Persad-Bissessar noted that former prime minister Patrick Man- ning had described Rowley as a "raging bull", and despite his efforts to rebrand him (which she claimed cost some $15 million), this image was seen in Parliament.

Confident of a TOP victory, Persad-Bissessar said she received an invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony of TOP leader Ashworth Jack as the next chief secretary of the THA on January 24.

She reminded the audience that on January 24, 2010, she was elected the political leader of the United National Congress (UNC); on February 24, she was named leader of the opposition; and on May 24, she was elected by the people as the first female Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

Persad-Bissessar suggested to Jack that after he becomes chief secretary that he renames Old Market Square in Scarborough to Freedom Square. —Anna Ramdass

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