CALL the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections now.
This was the challenge thrown out to Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday.
Last Thursday, Rowley, during a news conference at his Port of Spain office, said, "They (Government) do not deserve to be in office, they have betrayed the trust of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. They are stained and they are shamed, and they must leave office and we are calling for elections now," Rowley said.
Persad-Bissessar, addressing a gathering at her private residence in Phillipine, South Trinidad, said, "We challenge you (Rowley) call the THA elections now. That is the only one that is due and we will not sacrifice the votes and the trust and the mandate of the electorate of Trinidad and Tobago to do the thing that Mister Manning did twice, early elections."
Former prime minister Patrick Manning and former leader of the People's National Movement (PNM) called early general elections twice—once in 1995, which he lost to the United National Congress (UNC) and its then leader Basdeo Panday, and then in 2010, which he lost to the People's Partnership government led by Persad-Bissessar.
Persad-Bissessar said, "So Mister Rowley be a Tobago-born soldier, call the THA elections now. Dissolve the THA. Let us go forth. We are rising to the top with the TOP (Tobago Organisation of the People) because, for the first time in the history of this country, people of Tobago are given due respect side by side. Mister Rowley tell Mister (Orville) London to dissolve the THA and I will make the date for the election."
London is the THA's Chief Secretary. The election must take place by January 2013.
Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar hosted a pre-budget function at her home, where all ministers, Members of Parliament, regional corporations, non-governmental organisations and other groups were invited to attend.
The Prime Minister also told her guests she will continue to listen to the people and her government is "alive and strong".
She said, "I am fortified in my view that the Partnership is alive strong and we have demonstrated as a team that even if we should misstep or falter, that the collective good is greater than the individual good. There have been times when you have asked questions, as I have, and as ministers have and MPs ask. There have been questions that we have asked, and it is right and fitting that we ask those questions because when we ask those questions it makes us better."
Persad-Bissessar said, "The answers make us improve and do better than we did yesterday.
She said, "If any one of us falters and fails, I will have no compunction but to remove them out of the very government office because, at the end of the day, it is not about one of us, it is about all of us. I will always listen to the people, I will continue to listen and then lead. I will stay very strong and very focused. You gave us a mandate here and we will continue to carry out that mandate to serve the people."
She also announced that on Saturday there will be a rally at Mid Centre Mall in Chaguanas at 2 p.m. The purpose of the rally will be to discuss the upcoming budget.