Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley

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'PNM will not be bullied into supporting bill'

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has said that while the PNM is 100 per cent in support of more autonomy for Tobago, it will not be bullied into voting for the Tobago Bill unless the people are consulted on the provisions contained in it.

Rowley was speaking at a press conference at the offices of the Parliament yesterday where he stated the Opposition's position on the Constitutional (Amendment) (Tobago) Bill 2012 which was laid in the Parliament yesterday. Debate on the Bill is carded to begin next Wednesday.

"We of the PNM, we are no fly by night political party, we are not fearful of any threats or any consequences as threatened by the Prime Minister and we will no participate in any substandard approach to treating with this because the outcome of this legislation will be influenced and impacted by its process, said Rowley.

"In so far as there is a requirement for the PNM votes to advance this, such votes will not be used to advance the UNC's election campaign in Tobago. They could say what they want in Tobago, we believe that the people of Trinidad and Tobago are not stupid," he added.

Rowley said he does not expect any negative reaction from the Opposition's position as the people of Tobago are not stupid.

"We believe the people of Tobago will understand that the PNM is 100 per cent of Tobago getting an improvement in its autonomous arrangements...but that support is not going to come in this form of bullying to pass possibly bad law in an uninformed environment where the outcome good as it may be will be tarnished and stained by the population thinking that we did not understand what the Government had done," said Rowley.

Rowley said the Tobago Bill is a "major position" as it seeks to amend the country's Constitution to fundamentally alter the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago.

He noted that if the Opposition does not support the bill—which requires a three quarters majority—then the bill will go no where.

"The Prime Minister comes to Tobago locks arm with the minority leader, create something that we are seeing for the first time, comes in to the Parliament, shamelessly is praising the minority leader who she is campaigning with as part of her election campaign and is demanding that we her friends on the other side must vote for this creature that she has created," he said.

All of this, he said, was being done just before the THA election.

"I am not aware that the people of Tobago are aware of what is in this (bill) and that is wrong. If it is going to be enacted into law the least the Government was required to do is to let this country know what is in this bill," he said.

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