PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday February 4, 2015, CMC – Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley Tuesday called for fresh general elections in the country and dismissed Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar’s attempt at seeking to implicate him in the ongoing controversy surrounding the police investigation of her former attorney general, Anand Ramlogan.
Rowley told a news conference that the “prime minister is playing smart with foolishness” as he brushed aside her remarks made during a televised national broadcast that she had been probably duped into appointing David West as the director of the P:olice Complaints Authority (CPA).
“In any serious country with this kind of development where the government has collapsed in this way, anybody wanting this country’s interest to be of paramount will call the general election and have a new cabinet sworn in and let sanity prevail and public interest and public business handled in a sane and sober way,” Rowley told reporters.
In her radio and television broadcast on Monday night in which she announced the removal of Ramlogan and the national security minister Gary Griffith from her Cabinet, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar also called for the resignation of West who is a witness for Rowley in a defamation case filed by Ramlogan.
The Cabinet re-shuffle comes amidst the controversy that erupted last month, after West said he sent a written complaint to the Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams alleging that Ramlogan had sought to have him withdraw a witness statement he had made in support of Rowley.
The lawsuit followed statement allegedly made by Rowley during a news conference relating to the failed extradition involving Section 34 applicants Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh to the United States on corruption charges.
Ramlogan has denied that he asked West to withdraw his witness statement in support of Rowley six days before the PCA director took up his new post.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said she was perturbed at the compromised position of West, whose appointment was made by the President after consultation with her and Rowley last November.
She said questions must also be asked as to why West had not made known to her or President Anthony Carmona his interest in the Ramlogan-Rowley case and she also questioned whether or not Rowley knew of the situation before agreeing to West’s nomination.
“It is my respectful view that it was obligatory, not mandatory to have informed me and or his Excellency. Failure by the Opposition Leader to do so at the time does create doubt to any independent observer as to why no mention was made at the time of appointment and why was there such a delay between November and when the appointment was made and now,” she said, calling for “an independent probe” to be conducted into the questions surrounding the appointment of West.
But Rowley told reporters that Prime Minister Persad Bissessar was continuing to protect an attorney general, who is now the subject of a police probe that could result in him being sent to jail for 20 years if he is convicted of the allegation made against him.
“The prime minister was never in the dark she was always in the forefront of protecting wrongdoing in her government. All that has happened there now is that this matter is the subject of a police investigation and is likely to go further with dire consequences,” he said.
“She could run but she can’t hide from that, that is the outcome of protecting wrongdoing in the government and I take no responsibility whatsoever for that.
“As far as I am concerned I have put my matters in the hands of my lawyers in the court and I am not to report to the prime minister about witnesses,” Rowley said, adding that the “suitability of David West to be head of the PCA has nothing to do with him being a witness.
“Of course she is trying to imply that he is going there to say something I told him. I have not spoken to the man, I have not hired him, he is not working for me and if he goes into the court as a witness…that is a matter for the officers of the court and the court.”
Rowley said one of the problems confronting the justice system here is the failure of witnesses to come forward based on death and other threats “because the criminals on the streets know that if you eliminate the witness the perpetrator stands a very good chance or perfect chance of not being held accountable.
“That is what we saw last night in the prime minister’s address, attack the witness, eliminate the witness and hold the witness responsible for the outcome,” he said, adding “ an rather than setting an example of saying to the population be a witness, stand up…and be a witness so could be prosecuted the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago launched an attack on a witness to the point where she is calling on the President to remove him from office because he was a witness against a favourite member of her cabinet”.
Rowley urged the population “to stay focus and not be distracted by extraneous matters.
“The headline is not David West, the headline is not Keith Rowley, the headline is an attorney general who has done until he has over done and today our attorney general is in the hands of the police,” Rowley said, urging the authorities to take note of the statements by Griffith that he was being asked by other government ministers to change his position as a witness.