San Fernando East MP and former prime minister Patrick Manning met with PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley at the party’s headquarters for two hours yesterday.
Rowley confirmed that the meeting took place. Manning arrived around noon at Balisier House.
Asked what was the reason for the meeting, Rowley said: “Mr Manning is a parliamentary colleague and is one of the team of 12 who I lead in the Parliament.
“Secondly, he is not well so he has been out of Parliament for some time and so we communicate periodically, either on the phone or I go down to see him in San Fernando.
“He has been away for two months and I have not seen or spoken to him for two months and we agreed to meet. He came up to Balisier House and we spoke for two hours”.
Sources at Balisier House said Manning was dressed in a blue track suit. He was greeted by the staff at Balisier House, led by general secretary Ashton Ford.
Asked what he and Manning spoke about, Rowley said: “Everything. His health, his plans, our plans, the party, his constituency, the situation in the country. I must say it was very interesting because he expressed some views to me which I was very interested to hear. Mr Manning is a colleague I worked with since 1980 so I don’t know why people should you know (make a fuss of the meeting).”
He said in the two months that Manning was overseas (in the United States where he had a medical check-up), a lot had happened and a lot more is expected to happen.
“So we had a long discussion on what is happening and what is likely to happen and he expressed his views on all this. I found the discussion very useful and very fruitful.
“In the context of the country, Mr Manning is in fact a senior person in the PNM and in the country. So we are very fortunate in the PNM to be able to have someone like that to talk to because he has been there (in the politics) for so long,” Rowley said.
Rowley said he had met Manning in Balisier House previously since the party’s loss of the 2010 general election.
He said he talks to all his MPs, though because of Manning’s tremendous experience, a conversation with him is different from one with the other Members of Parliament.
“And of course there is a perception that there is this gulf that neither of us would cross, which is not true. If I want to speak with Mr Manning on the phone, I call him,” he said.
Rowley recalled that the first no-confidence motion he filed against Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar “the only person I discussed it with was Mr Manning”. “We sat down and discussed it and that was it,” the Opposition Leader stated.
Asked whether Manning indicated if and when he would be returning to the Parliament, Rowley said no. Rowley said that was a matter for Manning and the House Speaker, Wade Mark. “I would not be the one to talk to him about that issue. Jack Warner may want to do that because he has to find issues around which to mobilise opinion. He (Warner) has to look for ways to make himself relevant and keep himself in the public eye,” Rowley said.
Warner had called on Manning to follow his lead and resign his seat in Parliament.
Sources have indicated that Manning has applied to the Speaker for a 42-day sick leave extension.