T&T main opposition boycotts Parliament over leader’s suspension


PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley. (Photo: Trinidadandtobagonews.com)


PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday May 8, 2015 – There will be no People’s National Movement (PNM) MPs in Parliament until Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley is allowed to return.

That is the position of the main opposition party, following an emergency meeting of its general council yesterday, a day after Rowley was kicked out of Parliament over the “Emailgate” scandal, until the end of the session which will end no later than June 17 ahead of general elections.

PNM chairman Franklin Khan said, however, that the Opposition would remain in the Senate.

The coalition People’s Partnership government on Wednesday successfully passed a no-confidence motion against Rowley who, in May 2013, read in Parliament documents purporting to be e-mails he received from an unidentified source, which contained a series of allegations of criminal misconduct in public office by the Prime Minister and several Cabinet ministers, but which were later found to be false.

The suspension means that Rowley will not sit in Parliament again until after the next election – if he wins his seat.

Yesterday, Khan said the general council had passed three resolutions.

It agreed that all PNM Members of Parliament “should withdraw from parliamentary debates, beginning Friday, May 8, and continuing thereafter, if necessary, until the government withdraws and rescinds the suspension of Dr Keith Rowley”; it instructed the leadership of the PNM to take any further action they consider appropriate, “inclu­ding approaches to the honourable courts as may be advisable and necessary to deal with the threats to the political leader and the nation”; and it also mandated the political leader and the party’s leadership to redouble their efforts in preparation for victory in the upcoming general election.

Khan was speaking at a news conference yesterday where PNM’s public relations officer Faris Al-Rawi said government “essentially took political action in the Parliament” and did not allow due process.”

“The Government came to the Parliament and, without due process, without allowing the political leader of the PNM the opportunity in a Committee of Privileges to call for witnesses, to be cross-examined, without that due process of putting facts and having a hearing upon the allegations which the Government has brought, they suspended Dr Rowley,” Al-Rawi said.

Just 24 hours after his suspension, Rowley made some more email revelations, according to the Trinidad Express.

The newspaper reported that while addressing a PNM meeting in Arima last night, he showed new e-mails which alleged that $60 million was transferred from First Citizens bank to three foreign banks.

Rowley said the money was transferred from the account of the National Energy Corporation (NEC) to banks in the United States and Dubai and to an attorney’s office in Antigua.

The Trinidad Express reported that the e-mails detailed the amounts of the transactions which took place in September 2011.

Rowley said he had received the e-mails from a whistleblower who was concerned about the status of investigations into the matter.

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