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Proposal aimed at destroying ILP, says Warner

By \\\\\ Anna Ramdass

The run-off vote proposed in the Constitution (Amendment) Bill is a measure aimed at destroying the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) and racially dividing the country, says party chairman Jack Warner.

Speaking to the Express by phone yesterday, Warner, the Independent MP for Chaguanas West, said this provision was never discussed with the people, but was created last week by the “cabal” in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet in an attempt to stay in power.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Monday introduced the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, which will bring swee­ping changes to this country’s political system by having fixed terms for a prime minister, the right of recall of MPs and a run-off vote.

The run-off vote is geared to ensure there are no minority MPs in the House—in that if no candidate receives over 50 per cent of the vote at the polls, a second vote is taken between the two top contenders and the person who receives over 50 per cent wins.

Warner slammed the provision, saying it was undemocratic and the ILP will discuss the amendments at length at an executive meeting on Sunday, and on Monday he intends to contribute to the debate when the Parliament meets.

“The Prime Minister did (run-off vote) that which is totally not in her manifesto, she did that to save herself for another term, hoping to wipe out all third parties like the ILP,” said Warner.

“More than that, she has followed the wishes to the hilt, the cabal’s wish has always been to Indianise and Hindu­nise the country, and the feeling is that this decision will divide the country along tribal lines, African PNM, Indian UNC and COP sorry out of their soul,” said Warner. He said there will be no room for a third force.

Warner pointed out in countries that have a run-off vote, voting is compulsory, as is the case in Belgium.

He said voting was not compulsory in this country and therefore this measure was meant to hoodwink the population.

Warner said he awaits what position ministers Winston Peters and Clifton DeCoteau would take on the bill.

“This was discussed at a Cabinet meeting last week and I got wind of it. At the Cabinet meeting they discussed having a two-party fight for election. They do not want the ILP to be a third party,” said Warner.

He said further the people were never consulted on this provision, which is another insult to the population.

Warner said the right of recall was a “foolish” provision, questioning how it would be possible after three years to get two thirds of the electorate in a constituency to come out and vote.

He questioned why MPs were being subjected to recall and not senators, who do not face the polls but are appointed and given ministerial portfolios.

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