By Sue-Ann Wayow
THE two major political parties in Tobago – the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) are coming to an agreement to work together since the January election in Tobago ended in a six-six deadlock.
The PNM in a press release on Thursday stated it welcomed the PDP to the negotiating table and written correspondence along with a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was forwarded by the PNM to PDP’s political leader Watson Duke on Wednesday.
The PNM stated, “The PNM is recommending a combination of suggestions from both parties in order to fully convene the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) with the election of a Presiding Officer, Chief Secretary and naming of councillors.”
Also on Thursday, in a brief media release, the PDP stated that it acknowledged receipt of the PNM’s counter-proposal.
PDP stated, “We are grateful that they agree in principle with the need for an amalgamation for the purpose of advancing Tobago’s autonomy. Our team considers this matter urgent and therefore will meet today so that a response can be provided in a timely manner.”
Political leader of the PNM Tobago Council Tracy Davidson Celestine said: “Tobagonians deserve good governance without the pain of adversity of a deadlock. We are happy we can start a serious conversation with the PDP on a way forward. Now is a time for maturity, civility, level headedness and fair play.”
The PNM is agreeing to work to have the passage of the Tobago Autonomy Bill by the Parliament. “Should we have agreement with the PDP, we hope to have a working arrangement for six months or so – the length of time we expect it would take pass and enact the Self Government legislation. In the meantime, we get to flex our political minds to come up with some creative ways to govern,” Davidson Celestine said.
The THA continues to stand dissolved, the previous Executive Council remains in place, a circumstance with which many Tobagonians were uncomfortable with, although allowed law.
Davidson Celestine said: “We want to be fair to voters, and we must embrace the opportunity to work together under the current deadlock. We know that not everyone will understand and support the process. It is a new concept to most. We just want to ensure that this is done in a civil, fair and respectful.”
The PNM added that the PDP was not always consistent and expressed concern over some of its suggestions.
The PNM in its combination of recommendations from each side proposes, among other things, that the PDP provide a candidate for the post of Deputy Chief Secretary, Deputy Presiding Officer, and be allocated four secretarial positions in THA Divisions and one councillor.
It also recommends that the PNM will provide the candidate for Chief Secretary, Presiding Officer and hold four Secretarial Positions.