The closed-door meeting, which lasted for approximately two hours, was the first of four planned this week as the Persad-Bissessar administration works out strategies for debate of the motion filed by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. It will be debated in the House of Representatives on Friday and Saturday.
Another meeting will be held tomorrow evening in Couva South. On Wednesday there will be a mass rally at the Prime Minister’s Siparia constituency office, and on Thursday, the final meeting will be held at the Diamond Vale Community Centre. Party insiders told the T&T Guardian calls were made on Saturday to elected representatives and senior party officials, inviting them to yesterday’s meeting which was scheduled to begin at 1pm, but did not get going until around 1.30 pm.
Noticeably absent were Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner and Congress of the People (COP) political leader Prakash Ramadhar. Foreign Affairs and Communications Minister Surajrattan Rambachan, who spoke to the media after the meeting, said the absence of the two ministers might have been due to the fact that it was called at short notice.
He said Ramadhar, the Minister of Legal Affairs, had condemned the motion and expressed support for Persad-Bissessar. A spokesman for Warner said the Works Minister did not receive notification and spent yesterday working at his constituency office. Rambachan said Rowley should pay the ultimate price for his no-confidence motion and resign. He expressed confidence that the motion would be defeated.
“Dr Rowley must be prepared to take the ultimate step because when he is defeated, in terms of this motion, he must resign as Opposition Leader in the Parliament,” Rambachan said. “This is not just being defeated in the Parliament, but in the public glare also.” His view was supported by Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“When somebody brings a motion of no confidence against a Prime Minister, it is a serious constitutional motion and if it is defeated, the person who brings the motion should resign because he has now embarrassed his party,” Khan said, adding that this was based on international protocol. Rambachan told reporters: “These meetings have arisen because supporters of the Prime Minister want these meetings.
“In the different areas and communities, they want to show they support the Prime Minister and that this is an irrelevant motion,” he said. “This has nothing to do with internal elections…This has to do with the frivolous, vexatious and unfounded motion, mischievous motion of Rowley that is going to be debated in the Parliament on Friday and Saturday.”