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Abdulah on what Jack’s win means to T&T: Governance system in state of crisis

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jack Warner’s victory on Monday in the Chaguanas West by-election represents both the “repudiation” of the United National Congress (UNC)-led Government and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, says Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah. “Yesterday’s result represented a total repudiation of the UNC-led coalition Government,” Abdulah said during a press conference called to discuss the meaning of Warner’s win for the country at the Communication Workers’ Union on Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday. 



He said more than a year ago the MSJ had said the Government had broken the social contract with the people by turning its back on the principles, values and policies of the Fyzabad Declaration and manifesto. The public was losing confidence in the Government, which, he said, was accelerated by the Section 34 issue, as well as “continuing allegations of corruption, nepotism, patronage and acts of political discrimination and victimisation.” He said citizens had been expressing disapproval of the Government in “whatever peaceful ways that they can,” citing demonstrations and elections as examples, as well as the January 21 Tobago House of Assembly elections and Monday’s Chaguanas West by-election. 


He said in both elections, Persad-Bissessar led the campaigns for the Government and the results indicated a “total repudiation of her leadership.” Persad-Bissessar’s campaign strategy in the by-election, he said, like the coalition’s strategy in the THA election, “demonstrated total arrogance and disrespect to the electorate, as ministers and/or party officials were parachuting into the constituency. “The PM, the UNC, the partnership, or whatever is left of it, have, therefore, lost political legitimacy,” he said. 


The Government’s loss of legitimacy, he said, has occurred across T&T even in areas which traditionally supported the UNC. The result, Abdulah said, also raises other issues such as the existing system of governance, which, he said, “is in crisis and indeed, has collapsed.” He said this was why parties elected in the last 25 years had failed to deliver good governance. He said unless there are good systems and significantly reformed institutions, the country would not have a good government. None of the parties, he said, are serious about changing the systems of governance, or were genuinely interested in constitutional reform, local government reform, public procurement legislation with a strong regulator or party financing legislation that will result in “the weakening of the power of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,” as well as party financiers. 


Citizens, he said, will have to decide what they want for T&T. Asking people to think carefully about the future, Abdulah asked: “Do we wish to build a nation on integrity, social justice, equity and fairness to all? Or do we wish to descend further into barbarism, where anything goes? Where today is today, yesterday is yesterday and where politics has a morality of its own?”  Asked what Warner’s victory meant for T&T’s political landscape, Abdulah said it did not represent fundamental change, but might result in another party being offered for election. Asked about the future of the People’s Partnership, Abdulah said the partnership ceased to exist, in its full sense, when the MSJ left. He said the UNC is not what it was in 2010 and was now also fragmented. 


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