Gary Griffith has agreed to forgo his inclusion in the planned anti-crime talks involving the government and the opposition United National Congress.
In a social media post on Monday, he said: “It was clear that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, fuelled by bitterness and rage, or maybe simply being intimidated to face me, was prepared to use my inclusion as an excuse, falsely depicting it as a “deal breaker”. It is now hoped that maturity takes precedence over emotion and he not only agrees to terms for the anti-crime talks, with the opposition, but that he also attends and leads his team.”
Griffith said he will continue to offer his advice and guidance to the Opposition.
UNC leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said Griffith selflessly put his inclusion on the opposition team on hold as he did not want to be scapegoated as a reason for these talks to be scuttled.
Hopefully, she said: “Mr. Griffith’s non-attendance will assuage the fears and insecurities of the Prime Minister, who will now reconsider his refusal to attend the proposed crime talks. As leaders, we cannot take intractable stances on these talks while violent criminals terrorize our beloved citizens.”
According to Persad-Bissessar, “The citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are unequivocally correct in requesting cooperation from their elected representatives to stem the violent crime crisis.
Therefore, I reaffirm my commitment to leading a team on behalf of the UNC to attend the anti-crime talks to explain our multidisciplinary approach to the Government on combatting the violent crime crisis.”
On November 20, 2023, at a press conference, Keith Rowley falsely stated that the UNC put forward a “deal breaker” that there would be no anti-crime talks if former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith were not present.
“I wish to correct this untruth and remind the country that I had indicated for an invitation to be extended to all willing stakeholders to participate in the anti-crime talks. Over a month ago, on October 14, 2023, I wrote to the Prime Minister to clarify several key points concerning the proposed bipartisan crime talks. To date, there has been no response,” says Persad-Bissessar.
The Opposition leader is urging the Prime Minister to:
1. Invite all willing stakeholders to the anti-crime talks to contribute.
2. Broaden the topics to be discussed at the meetings beyond legislation only.
3. Invite experts and professionals from various sectors to advise parliamentarians on creating a holistic approach.
4. Implement the numerous plans, policies, and programs the UNC has presented.
5. Desist from using these anti-crime talks as political propaganda.
6. Lead a credible team to represent the Government at these talks.