Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday dismissed allegations that he would seek to penalise the residents of Tobago in light of the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) overwhelming 14-1 loss in Monday’s Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections.
In his victory speech on Monday night, deputy PDP leader Farley Augustine called for a cordial relationship with the Prime Minister. Yesterday, Rowley said despite the loss, he respected the democratic process of an election.
“Notwithstanding attempts to mislead, there is proof that in this country democracy is very much alive and the will of the people is scrupulously respected,” the PM said.
In an earlier media statement, Rowley said the Tobago election was free and fair and promised to continue to work for the betterment of the island.
“On this occasion when we have been replaced, even in the disappointment, we commit to continue to be of service to all the people of Tobago, remain resolute in our support of the further development of the island and the improvement on the quality of life for all Tobagonians,” Rowley said.
“The results have clearly indicated that the people of Tobago, on this occasion, have opted for change. The People’s National Movement, having managed the affairs of Tobago for 21 years, unbroken, must thank the people of Tobago for the many occasions when you would have entrusted us with the responsibility of your care, attention and development,” Rowley added.
Rowley said that the various campaigns held throughout the island in the build-up to the election laid out clear positions to the people. He said that it was now up to the PDP to follow through on its promises.
“The PNM and the Central Government will continue to respect the wishes of the people of Tobago and will do all that is within its capacity and responsibility to ensure that Tobago progresses within the administration of Trinidad and Tobago, as required by the existing laws and our common pursuit of national development,” he said.
Political leader of the PNM’s Tobago Council, Tracy Davidson-Celestine, also promised to “redouble efforts” in the wake of the loss.
In a media release yesterday, Davidson-Celestine said Tobago had called on the PNM to be better and she would listen.
“The people of Tobago have spoken. Tobagonians have given a mandate to the PDP and for this we congratulate them. Tobagonians have also said to us that we need to be better and we will,” she said.
She also took the time to thank all the PNM supporters and said she has learned from those who supported the party and from those who did not.
During his victory speech in Speyside on Monday, Augustine said the PDP win was also evidence of strong rejection of the PNM.
Yesterday, political analyst Dr Winford James agreed. He said the PNM Tobago Council lost the election because of “a bully of a PM.”
James said the PNM had recycled “old, tired PNM politics to attract the electorate.”
However, he said the electorate did not respond to the “demonisation of Farley and Watson who have never held office.”
He opined that the PNM used “opportunistic inducements on the eve of the elections.” He also said the PNM erred with the deferral of the autonomy legislation and took the support of the electorate for granted.
The PDP, with the majority, would remain largely unchallenged at the THA and James said this meant that the electorate had given one party all the governance and management rights to the resources of the island.
“But expectations from self and the electors could become quite difficult to satisfy,” James said.
He said these were unprecedented times in terms of checks and balances at the THA with a PDP majority.
“Apart from a vigilant and supportive electorate, there are no checks and balances. These would have to be created on an as-needed basis,” he said. —Renuka Singh