PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Tuesday October 22, 2019 – The main opposition United National Congress (UNC) has denied any involvement in any alleged plots to kill the country’s Attorney General or Prime Minister Faris Al-Rawi. In fact, it charged that the claims made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley were part of a “desperate attempt” to revive his “dying political career” and get political mileage ahead of next year’s elections.
It was last Friday night, at a meeting of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM), that Rowley linked opposition operatives to a plot to assassinate Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi. He also said that on two occasions ahead of the 2015 general elections, “they hired a killer to kill me”, offering US$2 million for the job.
“The first killer refused and went and told a government official. The government official came and told us. We told the police. While dealing with that, they went and found another person. He too refused. There is honour among thieves in this country. It appears as though there is honour among killers too,” he told PNM supporters.
Revealing what he said was a recent plot to murder Al-Rawi, Rowley added that one of the first meetings he held when he moved back into the Prime Minister’s office in Whitehall last month, was to determine how to protect the Attorney General “because persons are paid money to kill him”.
“I tell you this not because I’m being irresponsible, it’s because I want you to know. You can’t say you don’t know. I want you to know because I am the chairman of the National Security Council,” he said.
But in a statement on Monday, distancing the UNC from any assassination plots, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she had no “intention of falling for these distractions and distortions”.
“I wish to wholly condemn the latest round of wild scandalous allegations of an assassination plot made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on his political platform on Friday, October 18, 2019….These allegations are baseless and are being made for the purpose of fear-mongering and scoring cheap political points,” she said.
“It is a return to his ‘Emailgate’ style of politics – make wild accusations with no evidence and hope that something sticks,” Persad-Bissessar added.
‘Emailgate’ refers to the 2013 scandal when Rowley, who was Opposition Leader at the time, revealed to Parliament 31 emails he had received which allegedly showed communication between some government ministers and Persad-Bissessar who was then prime minister, regarding a plot to undermine the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the judiciary and the media. After six years of investigations, the matter was closed earlier this year with no charges laid.
“From the producers of ‘Emailgate’ comes a last-ditch, desperate attempt to fool the electorate in 2020 with a sequel. This is Rowley’s ‘Mission Impossible’; he knows that he cannot win fair and square. So, the actors and producers are fast at work…,” Persad-Bissessar said.
But Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has confirmed that precautions were taken to protect Rowley and, more recently, Al-Rawi after it was confirmed that they were the targets of assassination plots.
The report of the threat against the Attorney General, the top cop said, was received a few months ago. Al-Rawi also confirmed to local media that he was informed of death threats made against him within the past two months.
The information on a plot to kill Rowley was received in 2014, during Griffith’s tenure as National Security Minister from September 2013 to February 2015.