Tuesday, April 9, 2002


Press Release : April 9th 2002

The All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union issues an urgent call to the Leader of the Peoples National Movement, Mr. Patrick Manning to advise the President of the date for fresh elections, now that he has clearly demonstrated that he does not control a majority in the Parliament. The failure of Mr. Manning to elect a Speaker of the House is an unequivocal indication that he is incapable of properly convening the Parliament and running the affairs of the Nation. It is a rejection of his administration and of his position as Leader of the House. One recalls that President Robinson had appointed Mr. Manning as the Prime Minister on the sole constitutional criterion that Manning was considered to be most likely to command a majority in the House. Now that he has sought to convene Parliament within six months and pursuant to section 67 of the Constitution, but has failed to elect a Speaker of the House it is possible to suggest that his Excellency may have erred in the exercise of his discretion.

The Union is of the view that the election of a Speaker is a constitutional prerequisite for a successful sitting of the Parliament. Section 50 (1) of the Constitution states that when Parliament meets for the first time after a General Election, it shall elect a Speaker before the dispatch of any other business. That there was no election of a Speaker means that there is no elected Presiding Officer of the Lower House and that the confusion that erupted in the House cannot be considered to be a legitimate sitting of the House. To do so is to make a mockery of our Parliamentary democracy.

The Prorogation of Parliament under the West Minster system, is the suspension of the House after a successful sitting. Obviously therefore, there can be no suspension or prorogation of the Parliament if there was no successful convening (sitting) in the first place. Clearly the Manning administration has failed the first test in its Parliamentary life of electing a Speaker of the House and they have demonstrated to the country that the Parliament does not repose in them the confidence to run the affairs of the state. The move to prorogue the House is an attempt to stall things and to "buy" time, perhaps hoping that matters before the Courts would score political points for the PNM. It is clearly an illegitimate act from a government that continues to exhibit its illegitimacy and unconstitutionality in its every act.

The state of affairs means that there is no Parliament and that there is no legitimate government. The country is in constitutional limbo and the citizens are being kept hostage by an illegal political administration.

The Union can only conclude, through the recent developments which have occurred that there is a conspiracy between the President and the Political Leader of the P.N.M. to erode the democracy of this country and to disenfranchise all the citizens of our beloved country who possess the right to vote. The citizens of our country deserve an explanation from his Excellency, as has been his past practice.

In the circumstances, the Union calls upon the President to advise Manning that he does not command a majority in the House and he must advise him that in the interests of the nation, a fresh election must be called. The President must also insist that Manning invokes the morality and spirituality that allegedly were the cornerstones of his appointment. To do otherwise would be the highest level of hypocrisy that the nation has ever experienced.