Signs of widening cracks in Trinidad’s governing multiparty coalition government emerged in clear terms Sunday with the deputy leader of one of the major groups saying the time has come for his party to leave after only eight months in the halls of power.
Robert Mayers, deputy leader of the Congress of The People (COP), widely regarded as the second largest group in the coalition, says other parties are being dominated by the United National Congress (UNC) of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and little consultation is taking place with the so-called smaller players.
Persad-Bissessar played a major role in cobbling together a group of disparate parties after taking over the UNC leadership a year ago from founder and former prime minister Basdeo Panday. Panday is in semi retirement. The grouping would eventually topple the mighty People’s National Movement (PNM) administration of Patrick Manning in general elections called on May 24.
Left to Mayers and some other others in the COP who think they have seen too many ominous signs of domination and dysfunctionality in the administration, the COP would withdraw itself from government.
He says that the COP must extricate itself from the “madness that is the government before it loses its credibility. On May 24, people voted for a people’s partnership (PP) government and now they’ve gotten a UNC government. They didn’t vote for that,” he told Trinidad and Tobago’s Sunday Guardian newspaper.
Persad-Bissessar’s administration has been at the receiving end of country-wide criticism for appointing a 31-year-old party supporter without a university degree to the highly sensitive position of director of the country’s umbrella intelligence service as apparent reward for allegedly leaking information on the agency to the PP government.
Left with egg on its face — as one cabinet minister after the other blamed the other for misleading them about the qualifications and background about Reshmi Ramnarine in parliament and other forums, authorities were forced to withdraw the appointment and begin a so-far failed public relations campaign to clean up the political mess caused by the appointment. Ramnarine has since fled the country.
Relatives say the fallout from the furor about her short-lived appointment has exposed the family to public ridicule, death threats and has made life untenable for Ramnarine.
Mayers accuses the government of being unprepared to tackle national challenges like crime and the stagnant economy, saying the PP’s major role was to rid the country of a corrupt and incompetent PNM government. It is now time to train political guns on PP and rid the Caribbean’s most southerly nation of it.
“The act of appointing Ramnarine says more than they realise. They treated the post in such a flippant manner. It also shows their treatment of crime is just a joke. They are not serious. They can’t stay. We have to move them now. They don’t understand the rules of governance,” he says.