Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday revealed that the government is planning on two possible amendments to the THA Act that will allow for the breaking of the political deadlock on the sister isle.
As our readers would remember, just over a week ago, the people of Tobago voted for a new House of Assembly to govern the island. However, when the votes were counted it ended in a 6/6 tie and therefore a political stalemate.
The challenge is that the THA Act is silent on how such an outcome should be resolved if both parties refuse to co-operate or someone from one of the parties does not cross the floor to give the other a majority.
As a result, no Presiding officer can be elected, no new Executive Council installed and the people’s business having to be taken care of by what can only be seen as a caretaker administration.
The solution that the Prime Minister and his government have so far come up with is a mechanism to give authority to someone to break the deadlock and the increasing of the number of seats to an odd number, therefore ensuring in the future, there can be no tie.
There are two things that must happen in our view, the people of Tobago must be given another chance to decide definitively who will govern then and it must be done quickly.
The idea of democracy is that the people must on a regular basis determine who their leaders will be. This ensures that those in government and others trying to replace them, must in the interim sell their ideas to the people on how they should be governed. In other words, they must first elect who will lead them and then convince the people that their approach to the process of governance and the decisions they take are in the people’s best interest.
What has happened in Tobago is that at the moment the people who form the Executive Council are without a mandate to govern.
The spending of public funds, on what has already been voted for and approved must be the only money that should be available.
There should be no award of contracts unless it is for critical items, no variation of funds and even the continued performance of some of the Secretaries like Kwesi De Vignes who was rejected by the electorate is in question.
We fear that the route of the EBC having to find new electoral boundaries is fraught with danger and could even see the possibility of the West having far more sway on who governs Tobago because of its greater population centre and its general leaning to the ruling party.
For sure no one is questioning the EBC’s independence in drawing up boundaries, but it will be limited by where the people live and that could throw up particular outcomes.
More than that the EBC must have the time to do its work and to do it properly.
Rushing changes in the boundaries could risk a loss of confidence in the very system we are trying to fix.