27-hour debate ends in Opposition defeat

All 29 Government MPs voted against, while 11 Opposition MPs voted for the motion, which began at 1.30 pm on Friday and concluded after 5 pm yesterday. It was the longest sitting in the history of the country’s Parliament, Speaker Wade Mark told the house.

 

No MP abstained from voting. Mark said the motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister had been defeated. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, in thanking her members for their unwavering support, breathed a sigh of relief as Government ministers and Senators huddled around her following the voting exercise.

 

The Prime Minister, citing a standing order 34.2 that allowed her to speak after Opposition Leader Keith Rowley, said that the “raging bull” (a reference to Rowley) “was gored and gored again and again” by the Government. Persad-Bissessar said the presentations of the matadors, referring to the Government MPs, were well researched, in-depth and comprehensive.

 

In delivering her contribution Persad-Bissessar, who delivered a stinging attack on Rowley for making allegations against her without a shred of evidence, said the objective of the motion was to get her fired and bring down the Government, but the Opposition had failed in its attempt. “It was wild spurious allegations. The motion was doomed to fail. You must come with evidence.”

 

Persad-Bissessar said no one could believe Rowley. Persad-Bissessar said for 12 years Rowley’s former leader Patrick Manning had to put up with him and had even described him as a “raging bull and a man completely out of control.” Persad-Bissessar said Rowley was supposed to drop a bombshell in his contribution, but instead we got a “conch shell, egg shell, blanked shell, empty shell, cracked shell and then a shell shock.”

 

She said there was little to answer in the debate and just as Port-of-Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing had predicted, the Opposition was outgunned and outmatched. Defending his decision to bring the motion, Rowley said despite the detractors the debate was “worthwhile.” In an interview with the Sunday Guardian after the debate, Rowley said:  “The debate could have never been a waste of time. The parliamentary procedure allows for me to bring a no-confidence motion. I do not agree that you have to have an earth-shaking matter to bring about a vote of no confidence. In some parliaments, a vote of no confidence had to come every month, sometimes every year.”

 

“I disagree with the Government spokesperson that said nothing dramatic has happened. We made it clear from the start that we were examining the stewardship of the government. A lot of information has come out and different positions were taken.” Rowley said he was particularly pleased with the discussions he heard on energy and the economy, even though there was a difference of opinion on the state of the economy.

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