Sunday, February 18, 2018

Self-governance priority for Tobago

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London yesterday met with former chief secretary Hochoy Charles to discuss the business of the people of Tobago in the wake of the outcome of the January 21 election.

The People's National Movement (PNM) won a landslide victory with all 12 seats.

Both Charles, whose party The Platform for Truth received over 600 votes, and London yesterday agreed that the number one priority should be the issue of self-government for Tobago and that all of Tobago should collaborate and cooperate in dealing with this matter.

They further agreed that there should be no interference from the Cabinet under Section 75 of the Constitution and that the Assembly should retain its executive and law-making powers.

In an interview following their 50-minute meeting at the Calder Hall Administrative Complex in Scarborough, Charles said: "We are going to ensure that these things happen to us and that these things are delivered to us in the shortest possible time."

Charles said there was also agreement on a common effort, a common plan and a common strategy in order to keep these issues on the front burner and to bring them to the table and to the fore so that they can be discussed.

He added that self-government was passed for Tobago more than 35 years ago and didn't think that "we should wait for the 40 years like the people of Israel waited in the wilderness before we can get it".

The meeting followed a similar one between London and Dr Vanus James of the Movement for Democracy and Development (MDD) last Saturday. London will also meet with the Tobago Chapter of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce next Tuesday to be followed by other organisations during the month.

London said while he and Charles have been on different sides of the political fence for many years, one of the things they had in common was the interest of the people of Tobago.

He said while the results of the election meant that there was no minority presence in the Tobago House of Assembly, this does not mean that Tobago politics should revolve around one party .

He added that it presented an opportunity to introduce into Tobago true democracy between elections. "Democracy is not just about election results, democracy is about what happens between elections and therefore we felt we had to be the catalyst involving as many individuals, organisations and communities in the process," he said.

London disclosed that he would be taking a motion to the first sitting of the House of Assembly next Thursday to treat with the strategies and vision for treating with Tobago people's business during this very unique period of challenges and opportunities for Tobago.

London said Charles has committed to be part of the process which would give Tobagonians the assurance that "we are going to work assiduously to ensure that what Tobago people want and deserve with respect to internal self-government is what they are going to get".