Saturday, February 24, 2018

...Ministers: Kamla must not give in to blackmail

Although Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is concerned about the health of environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh she will be setting a dangerous precedent if she were to accede to his demands.

This is according to senior Government ministers in response to questions from the Express on Kublalsingh's hunger strike.

Sources told the Express there was a split among Government members as to how this issue with Kublalsingh should be treated.

Some believe the Prime Minister should intervene and speak to him and put an end to the hunger strike while others insist that she must not give in to "blackmail" .

The Express understands the Prime Minister raised and discussed Kublalsingh's hunger strike at the Finance and General Purposes Meeting (FNGP) meeting yesterday and instructed ministers to refer to a release that was issued by the Works Ministry led by Emmanuel George on November 17, if they were asked for comment.

In that release, it was stressed the Government provided every opportunity to the Re-Route Movement to present its objections and concerns to the highway and that Kublalsingh himself had met with the Prime Minister and her team and discussed the matter, and the assurance was given to halt the works pending technical reviews.

The release added that the Re-Route Movement rejected the recommendations by the technical committee and legal action was taken against the State, and therefore any meeting between the Government and the group would be "inadvisable if not inappropriate" as the matter was sub judice.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan told the Express yesterday this was a matter to be fought in the courts and the State had a right to defend itself against allegations made.

"The matter is sub judice and if they wish to challenge the clearing of land on the ground that it is a violation, then this can be raised in the court. You cannot file a suit against the State and whilst the matter is pending in the bosom of the court, you try to intimidate the Government into giving you the very remedy that you are claiming from the court in the first place," said Ramlogan.

Another Government Minister, Dr Roodal Moonilal, told the Express he and Government members went through pains to listen to the demands and concerns of Kublalsingh and others at previous meetings—all of which went in vain as he (Kublalsingh) refused to co-operate and accept recommendations made by technical teams.

He urged Kublalsingh to end the hunger strike and eat something.

In May, Kublalsingh and Re-Route Movement members had protested outside the Parvati Girls Hindu College and several were physically removed by police.

The Prime Minister had ignored the protesters and Kublalsingh had criticised her as being "disrespectful" and vowed to intensify his protest saying, "She (Persad-Bissessar) will not be safe and the Government will not be safe. We will launch action after action after action for seven days, seven years or seven months until they stop the Mon Desir to Debe highway."