Thousands came out to march on Friday, May 23, 2014 – the day before the People’s Partnership (PP) government in Trinidad and Tobago celebrated its fourth anniversary in office – to protest against poor governance, corruption and spiraling crime in the country.
The march, which included union leaders, civil society groups and the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) saw people of all ages, ethnicities and social backgrounds walking, singing and chanting on the streets of Port of Spain in protest of the poor governance by the PP coalition.
Several politicians, including Independent Liberal Party (ILP) political leader Jack Warner, former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and United National Congress (UNC) member Mikela Panday, and daughter of former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday took part in the march.
While the march was in progress, hundreds of UNC supporters came out dressed in their yellow T-shirts in support of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar outside the Parliament building near the Waterfront on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain just before the start of Parliament. The tide of outrage and frustration were apparent from various sectors of the society about the PP performance over the last four years where some sections of the society felt alienated and victimized.
Speaking after the march, Ancel Roget, president of the Oilfield Workers Union (OWTU), head of the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTM), who organized the protest called on Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar to call an early General Election.
Describing the march as a historic one, Roget called on the president to address the number of issues facing the government, including E-mailgate, PrisonGate, Section 34, matters involving lawyers in prison litigation cases, failure to implement a workers’ agenda and the billion dollar Beetham waste water treatment plant in Port of Spain, among other burning issues.
He said the foreign exchange shortage in T&T could also be an indication to a devaluation of the country’s dollar.
Former AG Ramesh Maharaj told the gathering that the march proved that thousands were willing to stand up against the PP government, which no longer deserves to be in office.
He criticized the government’s poor performance adding that “this is a government that does not want to investigate allegations of corruption”.
“Why would a prime minister want to cover up allegations of serious corruption?” Maharaj asked.
On a recent video showing a man resembling a government minister and rolling what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette in a hotel room with a few women, Maharaj said this only served to demonstrate the incompetence of certain people in high places.
Maharaj also claimed that the government was using state resources for political purposes.