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Trinidad Government Moving To Have Opposition Leader Suspended From Parliament

Trinidad Government Moving To Have Opposition Leader Suspended From Parliament

By Peter Richards
CMC Caribbean Correspondent

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad CMC – The coalition People’s Partnership government says, it is moving towards having Opposition Leader, Dr. Keith Rowley, suspended from the Parliament, after accusing him of providing false information to legislators in the so-called “Emailgate” scandal.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar addressing the 26th anniversary of the ruling United National Congress (UNC) in Couva, Central Trinidad, last Sunday night, said, that the so-called emails that Rowley read out in Parliament suggesting that she and senior members of her government were involved in a plot to undermine several state institutions, including the judiciary, were a hoax.

“These are the facts, three sources have now shown that the e-mails have no substance, there is no truth, there is no basis for the fake e-mails Dr. Rowley read in Parliament,” she told supporters, listing among the sources, the United States Justice Department.

“We will deal with him in Parliament…I’ve already advised Dr. (Roodal) Moonilal, based on these documents and others which we will deal with in the Parliament, we will file a motion of censure again against Dr. Rowley on emailgate, but we will not stop there…we will also call, in the House, for Dr. Rowley to be suspended from the service of the House,” she added.

In 2013, Rowley told legislators that he had received in December the previous year, a total of 31 emails, from a “whistle blower” indicating how operatives within the government had sought to undermine those institutions, including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the media. He said, he had passed them on to the Office of the President.

Rowley said, the emails, dating back to September 2012, were from people concerned with the government’s defence of the early proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act that had the effect of allowing people, whose trial has not started after a 10-year period, to walk free and a verdict of not guilty entered against their names.

Critics say, that the clause was aimed at supporting businessmen, Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, who have been described as financiers of the ruling United National Congress (UNC), the biggest partner in the four-member coalition government.

The two are facing fraud and laundering charges relating to the re-development of the Piarco International Airport in 2001. They are also wanted in the United States on a number of related charges.

The government later repealed the section and Prime Minister Persad Bissessar dismissed her then justice minister, Hebert Volney, a former High Court judge, on the grounds that he misled Cabinet into believing that the Chief Justice Ivor Archie and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Roger Gaspard, had supported the idea of the early proclamation.

Rowley told legislators that the contents of the email collaborated strongly with events that unfolded in the country the previous year, as the government sought to defend its decision over the controversial legislation and read into the Hansard, the exchange of correspondences between people with email addresses like “anan@gmail.com, kamlapb@gmail.com, surujrambachan@hotmail.com and garygriffith@hotmail.com purporting to come from senior government ministers and officials.

Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said, while the email address was hers, she was not the author, and that she had passed them to the police for investigation.

The emails allege exchanges between Persad Bissessar,  then-attorney general Anand Ramlogan, former minister of local government Surujrattan Rambachan and then-national security adviser, Gary Griffith.

As she addressed the UNC public meeting last Sunday night, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar called on the police to release the information regarding their investigation into the emailgate, saying the country was heading into a general election.

“I have legally all the Google records pursuant to a court order in the case filed by the Integrity Commission and all the e-mails, for the month of September which Rowley sent out, were fake.

“Not a single e-mail remotely resembled anything that he read. Three sources have said there is no substance, no truth and no basis for the fake e-mails that Rowley read. We gave full authority to disclose those records and tonight I call on the police to state whether there was any e-mail as Rowley said.

“Should the conclusion of the report indicate that the contents of the e-mail were fake and criminal proceedings undertaken, the Opposition leader must immediately resign from his seat,” she said.

During her address, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said she would not be rushed into naming a date for the general election that must be held no later than September 17 this year.

“Today, speculation is all over that I am going to announce the election date today. But listen carefully, the last time a man tried that he lost the election when he called it before time,” she said, an obvious reference to former prime minister Patrick Manning, who called an early poll in 2010 and lost.

“I say my track record speaks for itself. We have held every single election within time, according to the laws of Trinidad and Tobago. Today, I say I will continue to comply with the law. I give you the assurance that I will call the elections when the elections are constitutionally due under the law.”

“No one will jumbie me to call an election before it is due. They could jump high, they could jump low, no election date will be announced before it is due. They could bark and shout, we will call it when it is due,” she told supporters at the UNC celebrations that were not attended by the party founder and former prime minister, Basdeo Panday.

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