Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 15th 2015 Contents A5
Wednesday, July 15, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Political Leader of the People s National Move-
ment Dr Keith Rowley says the latest allegations
levelled at Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
by her former Cabinet colleague, Independent Lib-
eral Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner, are shocking.
During a press conference at the Normandie Hotel
yesterday, Warner claimed to have had discussions
with Persad-Bissessar regarding plans to help United
National Congress financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh
and Steve Ferguson.
Warner also claimed to have been in a room with
three parties and witnessing cheques being passed
between the parties and Persad-Bissessar.
He attempted to tie the events to the proclamation
of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice
(Indictable Proceedings) Act.
Rowley, who spoke to media before meeting with
the Joint Trade Union Movement yesterday afternoon,
said he was still in shock after hearing the allegations
"I m still in shock because even I couldn t have
believed that it was as bad as that.
"I had my suspicions but this is something where
when I entered politics in 1980, I never dreamt that
I would encounter this sort of thing in Trinidad and
Tobago. I am still in shock," he said.
Rowley also commented on the national debate
which the Debates Commission announced would
take place on August 26 and 27.
Rowley, who said the commission had assured him
the debate would take place after nomination day,
said while a national debate would be useful he would
not be relying on it to debate with the population.
"There is no anxiety. We have been debating with
the population and Government for the longest while.
"The biggest debating chamber in the country is
the Parliament and I have been debating there for
the longest while.
"The Prime Minister has been largely absent and
she took the unprecedented step of using her majority
to throw me out of the debating chamber so we are
not exercised by any debate or lack thereof," he added.
He said the PNM could speak to the people of
T&T with or without any contrived debate.
"The national debate would be a useful thing. We
said so from the beginning and we signed on to it
very early. Other changes made by others, we are
not concerned by that.
"It could be a useful thing if accomplished but if
they don t we get on with our campaigning as we
have done for the past 60 years," he added.
Sacked justice minister and for-
mer St Joseph MP Herbert Volney
yesterday contradicted statements
made by Independent Liberal
Party leader Jack Warner about
the birth of the Section 34.
Warner in a sworn statement
alleged a criminal conspiracy to
implement the law for the benefit
of two United National Congress
and Steve Ferguson---who were
charged with a series of fraud
offences related to the Piarco Air-
port Development Project.
"Section 34 was conceived by
me, with no urging from the polit-
ical directorate of the country. It
was hammered out in the Senate
by Opposition, Government and
Independent benches and it was
a Parliamentary oversight not to
include white collar crime in the
schedule of exempted crimes," Vol-
ney, a former High Court judge,
said in response to queries from
He said it was intended to force
the hand of the Director of Public
Prosecution to prosecute long out-
standing matters where oppression,
by delay, was becoming an issue.
"It was juridically conceived by
me given my background on the
bench. If there was anything wrong
with it in principle, I was to accept
responsibility for it.
"There were differences in the
Cabinet over how to deal with
Section 34 after Steve and Ish
availed themselves of the facility.
The AG and I drew swords, the
PM supported him and repealed
the section and I took the fall
A meeting yesterday after-
noon between Larry Lalla, who
represented the Prime Minister,
and the T&T Debates Commis-
sion (TTDC) ended 20 minutes
after it started without the par-
ties being able to agree on
when the leaders debate
should be staged.
No People s National Move-
ment (PNM) representative was
present at the meeting.
Shortly after the meeting, the
TTDC announced that "the two
scheduled debates" will be on
August 20 and August 27,
adding it did try to accommo-
date a request by Lalla to hold
an exclusive debate between
Persad-Bissessar and Rowley.
"However, despite our efforts
to find an acceptable middle
ground between both parties,
the TTDC has been unable to
deliver a solution that is work-
able. As a result of this impasse,
we reverted to our original rules,
which included criteria for par-
ticipation, which is the fairest."
But Lalla made it clear after-
wards that the Prime Minister
had not agreed to participate in
any debate in August. He said
he went to the meeting after
Persad-Bissessar issued a call
to Opposition Leader Dr Keith
Rowley to debate her on
national issues on July 30.
"I was hoping the Debates
Commission would be able to
facilitate the debate on July 30
but the commission pointed
out they were only able to have
it after nomination day
Lalla said that was the date
the commission decided on
despite the fact that they sent
him an e-mail on July 3, fixing
July 30 as the date for the lead-
ers debate. He said the com-
mission wanted the debate after
nomination day to see if other
In making a case for its final
decision yesterday TTDC said
it had held nine meetings over
the course of the last two
months with the interested par-
"We have listened to all the
views put forward and we con-
tinue to act with integrity, trans-
parency and fairness by engag-
ing equitably with all parties.
"We are confident that all eli-
gible entities would benefit from
the unique platform which the
debates afford party leaders
through this unique and broad
media outreach," it added.
Lalla said he informed the
commission it was not neces-
sary to wait until after nomi-
nation day since the public
wanted to know, now, what
Persad-Bissessar and Rowley s
plans for the country were.
"I said, realistically, only the
Prime Minister or Rowley would
be prime minister on September
7. Therefore, it was not a pro-
ductive use of 90 minutes of
debate time to have others
included but we were unable
to come to an agreement and
the meeting ended," Lalla said.
Yesterday, the Caribbean New
Media Group (CNMG) CEO
Ken Ali said the commission
had not informed them that the
July 30 debate had been can-
He said CNMG was now pre-
pared to partner with other
organisations to stage it on that
Volney: Only me to blame for Section 34
by Jack's claims
Commission lists August for 'great debate' but...
PM's adviser still
keen on July 27
Attorney Larry Lalla, debates
negotiator for Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, leaves the
T&T Chamber of Commerce's
headquarters, Westmoorings, after
meeting with members of the T&T
Debates Commission yesterday.
PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
PNM chairman Franklin Khan,
who is in charge of the matter
for the party, refused to
"We gave a commitment to
the Debates Commission that
we will not comment (to the
media) on any matter relating to
the debate and I am sticking to
that. I have no comment," he
Several efforts to get a
response from the Debates
Commission and CEO Catherine
Kumar were not successful.
Persad-Bissessar, addressing a
UNC forum last Monday night at
the Country Club, Maraval, waved
a copy of an email from the
commission which confirmed
July 30 was set for the debate
between she and Rowley.
She said she was ready for it
and was disappointed the
commission cancelled it.
Rowley, on the other hand,
said he was informed the debate
was to be held in August and
said no July date had ever been
discussed with him.
KHAN MUM ON ISSUES
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