Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he will not be accepting an invitation by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to attend a series of public meetings hosted by the UNC to discuss the ongoing crime spate.
During his press conference at Whitehall in Port of Spain yesterday, he said: “Do you think I have time to pappyshow myself around the country?”
He said the Opposition was expressing concerns about crime but asked how they responded when he had brought anti-crime proposals in the past.
“They are campaigning for the next election,” he said.
Reporters asked about the proposed Government-Opposition crime talks that President Christine Kangaloo had publicly urged.
He said he had proposed a team, but the Opposition had said he must be a part of it.
Rowley said he had never ruled himself out of the talks but noted that the Opposition was insisting he be present.
Pressed, he said at the appropriate time, he might be a part of the talks, but not now.
Rowley said others could begin the talks and then progress it to the two-party leader(s).
“What is the story that if the Prime Minister is not part of the team, he doesn’t care about the criminals and families who are killed? That is nonsense!”
“Look at the offence they took by the fact I said the Attorney General (Reginald Armour, SC) would convene and chair it.
“Since you are asking me why I am not going, why don’t you spend some time asking the Opposition why they are not naming their team?
“All you afraid them? It is because I am in front of you all the time, and they are always in hiding.
He questioned how many times in the past 15 years Persad-Bissessar held press conferences to take questions from reporters.
He said, “If the Opposition does not put a team, that suggests they are not interested.”