By Sue-Ann Wayow
PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley should be expecting a pre-action protocol letter asking him to address the concerns of the local government body, following the judgement of the Privy Council.
The letter will be coming from Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar who said on Monday night that she will be writing Dr Rowley on the matter.
Speaking at Naparima College in San Fernando during the UNC Monday night forum, she said, “I call upon Dr Rowley and I will write him a pre-action protocol letter to address the councillors and the aldermen and the population of their concerns.”
The first concern was whether the offices were now vacant.
“In my respectful view, yes they are. They expired in December last year.” Persad-Bissessar said
She also warned, “ Councillor don’t go and do nothing you know, alderman.. Because you will be held liable. Don’t take chain up… You will be personally liable for acting illegally.”
Persad-Bissessar also asked when was the actual date of vacancy which she believes was December 3, 2022 and if they were not vacant, when will they be she enquired of Dr Rowley.
“The most important question. What is the date of the local government election?” she asked.
Speaking about the judgement last Thursday, Persad-Bissessar said it will set legal precedence in 54 commonwealth nations, making legal history not just in Trinidad and Tobago.
She praised activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj for “courageously challenging” law made by the Government and his legal team headed by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC which also consisted of Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial.
Lutchmedial also spoke on the platform and Balgobin Maharaj sat in the audience.
Persad-Bissessar said, “This situation that the Local Government Corporations now find themselves in is entirely the making of the PNM.”
The PNM also needed to inform the nation of how they were going to deal with the matter.
“Members of the Cabinet have been treating the population as fools. They are playing with words. They are intentionally being vague and evasive when addressing reporters answering questions. This latest judgment should serve as a powerful lesson to them – mere general and ambiguous statements are woefully inadequate when it comes to matters so important to our democracy,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She admitted she was unaware of what decisions Government may make on the matter going forward.
Making reference to the Biblical person Lazarus who was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ, Persad-Bissessar also said, “Whatever bill they are bringing to Parliament, it must not be a Lazarus bill they are bringing to Parliament, to raise the dead again.
“They have to come good. Because we will take you to court again if,” she vowed.
Last Thursday, the Privy Council ruled that citizens had a right to vote overruling the law that was assented to on July 1, 2022, the Miscellaneous Provisions (Local Government Reform) Act, 2022 allowed councillors to be in office for four years and therefore were to hold office until December 2023.
Following the ruling, Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, said he would be seeking legal counsel on the matter.