The Opposition People's National Movement (PNM), the country's longest serving political party, will not participate in Government's 50th anniversary Independence celebrations this evening.
The party's general secretary, Ashton Ford, said yesterday that PNM officials would be engaged in the party's own celebrations to mark the milestone anniversary.
And it was too far in planning to compromise on the celebrations at this point, Ford said at a news conference held at Balisier House in Port of Spain yesterday.
He said PNM officials were committed to their own function, which begins with a candlelight walk from St Vincent Street at 8 p.m. to the PNM's headquarters for a cultural show, which will culminate with the re-enactment of the flag-raising ceremony at Balisier House.
Ford said Balisier House would be transformed into a "theatre", and at midnight, the speech delivered then by T&T's first prime minister, Dr Eric Williams, would be played.
He said the Opposition had made several overtures to the Government to be included in its anniversary celebrations but to no avail.
"We couldn't do it our way if they are in power. So the matter was raised in Parliament," he said.
The PNM, he said, believes it has been excluded from the Government's organisation of its celebrations, and its legacy leader, Dr Eric Williams, had not been properly honoured for his contribution to this country's development.
At the PNM's general council meeting last Saturday, party chairman Franklin Khan said the PNM had announced this celebration in May, not as an attempt to usurp the role of the Government in hosting appropriate celebrations but because the party felt the Government was faltering in its duty.
Khan had accused the Government of turning an anniversary celebration into a UNC celebration.
In turn, Ford accused the People's Partnership Government of fostering "disunity" in the twin-island republic.
Ford said the party was "shocked" by statements made by Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie on Wednesday that the Opposition's actions were "unprecedented and inexcusable". He said Tewarie's statement was "inaccurate, mischievous and misleading".
"The PNM as a party will never participate in any form of disunity in the country," he said.
Ford said the PNM has been highlighting its anniversary celebrations so the Government would have been aware of what they intended. Further, the party also had to seek permission from the police for its walk and to block off Tranquillity Street for its celebrations.
Ford noted the PNM was the ruling party at the time, and the country's history was intertwined with that of the party, so they were committed to marking the anniversary celebrations.
He lamented that two separate Independence Day celebrations would be held to mark the milestone anniversary.
Ford noted when the PNM was the ruling party, the then opposition United National Congress (UNC) did not attend the Independence Day Parade or Na- tional Awards function but said PNM officials would participate in the National Parade scheduled for tomorrow morning.
He said the party had also agreed to stop all advertisements with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley juxtaposed against a National Flag in the background.
He explained to reporters that it was not the same as the faces of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and National Security Minister Jack Warner on the National Flag.
In this instance, he said, it was rushed artwork for the advertisement and the flag was a background image.
Ford observed that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had announced that as part of the country's anniversary celebrations, it would move away from the Privy Council as this country's final Appeal Court and replace it with the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), but it has yet to happen.