The Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly is calling on the Prime Minister to engage the Parliament and treat with the impasse in Tobago as a matter of urgency.
In an address on Sunday evening, Ancil Dennis called for an amendment to the THA Act, and announced that he will be seeking the resignation of all secretaries in the THA Executive Council who did not seek reelection and were replaced in the THA.
He said he does not expect a resolution will be found at the level of the political parties.
“Therefore, the solution must be a legislative one. All of us are aware that there is only one law-making body in this country, called the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. It is in this context that as Chief Secretary, I am requesting that the Prime Minister engage the Parliament to treat with this situation, as a matter of urgency.”
Dennis said there are two possible interventions from the Parliament to solve this deadlock facing the THA, the first being amendments to the current THA Act to facilitate another election with an odd number of seats and the second being the passage of the Tobago Self Government Bill which is currently before the Parliament.
“I am of the firm view that the best option is the fastest one as I am sure all of you do not want this situation to drag on beyond a reasonable timeframe.”
He said Tobagonians cannot be “intimidated by the novelty of this situation”.
He added: “My counterpart Farley Augustine has suggested that the popular vote is the most democratic option to determine who should form the executive. While this is in favour of the People’s National Movement (PNM), the law does not provide for this, and it certainly does not allow for us to toss a coin or pull straws. He also suggested the use of Section 92 of the THA standing orders to break the deadlock, but section 9 of the same standing orders requires the presiding officer to deliberate and decide on this matter. Furthermore, section 7 of the THA Act states very unambiguously, ‘The Assemblymen shall, upon the swearing-in referred to in section 6, elect a Presiding Officer to whom the President shall administer the oath set out in the Second Schedule’.”
He said“This period requires patience, patriotism, and common sense. Therefore, I appeal to every Tobagonian to support and engage in lawful and orderly conduct during this unprecedented time.”
He said he anticipates that the processes toward the transition will be settled and executed in the shortest possible time.
Dennis aded that he is prepared to request the resignation of those Secretaries who did not seek re-election and were therefore replaced as assemblymen. “Some of the remaining secretaries in the Executive Council will be assigned additional portfolios to facilitate this change. I believe that this is the right and proper thing to do in the unique circumstances which we now find ourselves. And let me also assure all of you, that the Executive Council will perform its duties with prudent restraint during this period.”