Cracks widening within coalition government in Trinidad and Tobago

The coalition comprising the United National Congress (UNC), the Congress of the People (COP), the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) and the National joint Action Committee (NJAC) came together ahead of the May 24, 2010 general election and swept the People’s National Movement (PNM) government out of office following a snap poll called by then Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

The coalition partners publicly signed the “Fyzabad Declaration” and 60-year-old Persad Bissessar  became the first woman ever to head a government in this oil rich twin island republic promising the population of 1.3 million people transparency and a new style of politics.

But the government has run into many problems or “mis-steps” including some inflicted upon it by Cabinet members themselves that have resulted in infightings that one senior Cabinet minister blamed “a cabal” for instigating.

The government was forced to declare a State of Emergency (SOE) to deal with a wave of criminal activities, including murder last year. A number of people were rounded up under the SOE, but the State now faces a barrage of lawsuits after most of them were released without any charge being laid against them.

The security forces later said they had uncovered a plot to assassinate the prime minister and three senior Cabinet ministers. But the opposition scoffed at the assassination plot pointing to the fact that no one had been charged even though several people, including a senior police officer and members of the Muslim community had been detained by the police.

Both the opposition and the trade union movement had accused the government of utilising the SOE and “inventing” the assassination plot as a means of preventing public demonstrations against the government’s labour policies.

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