the “clear stream of reason” can reverse the threat of turmoil in this
country. It must be done before it is beyond repair, because, in front of
our disbelieving, helpless eyes, it is sinking into the quicksand.
the players of this game, hold in your hands every card dear to us, our
freedom and democracy, and a social climate necessary for our very
survival and growth.
recognise that as politicians and statesmen, you are trained to fight to
win. That it is easy to get so absorbed in the game that you forget that
you might be staking cards that have been entrusted to you by us, the
people, who have chosen you to lead us in your various capacities.
hold the cards of our freedom, our democracy, our safety, our dignity, our
future - everything dear to us - in your hands. We implore you not to get
so caught up in the game, not to play so recklessly, that in winning, you
tear out the very roots of our tiny young country, and plunge all of us
into the widening abyss.
can’t help but look fearfully at our region, at the world, mussed up
with wars that had their genesis in situations very similar to this one.
Bill Chaitan and Winston Peters file their papers for the December
election while holding dual citizenship. Their papers are not rejected by
There are allegations of vote padding in certain constituencies by
the PNM. The issue is still under investigation.
The UNC won 19 out of 36 seats on December 11.
On the same night, Patrick Manning says in what amounts to an
admission of defeat, “the people have spoken and the voice of people is
the voice of God.” But Ken Valley, Deputy Political Leader says: “We,
the PNM will form the government.”
The President swears in Basdeo Panday, leader of the party that has
won the most seats, as Prime Minister.
The President swears in 15 ministers, but declines to swear in
seven others on the grounds that they were defeated in the general
The President, in an address to the nation, brings dark portents of
a “creeping dictatorship” embodied in the Prime Minister’s request
to swear in seven losing candidates as senators. He is sure of the support
of British constitutional luminary Prof Bradley and says he is open to
Excellency is corrected, overwhelmingly, by Prof Bradley, Caricom,
Constitutional experts, the Law Association, attorneys and commentators.
Dana Seetahal, Lloyd Best, James Millette among others, pronounce the
President’s position illegal and unconstitutional.
President has not budged.
Commentator Selwyn Cudjoe calls the President a national hero, and
condemns the mild response of PNM leadership to the Gypsy and Chaitan
fracas. Another political pollster ruminates, unscientifically, if the UNC
“really won the election.”
The Leader of the Opposition and his deputy declare they will start
holding public meetings on the election 2000.
The Prime Minister makes a statement to the Parliament, speaking of
a conspiracy by interests opposed to the Government of “colluding to
seize power, some by violent means.”
warns that the Prime Minister is paving the way for a state of emergency.
gentlemen, are your cards. If either of you has an outright victory, the
rest of us lose. You may not like these options, but they are in the best
interests of the people who raised you to power.
the President, as a statesman and an astute politician, sees it as part of
his responsibility to save his country from a “creeping dictatorship.”
This concern has to be taken at face value. We must remember that the
President was willing, with a gun in his mouth, to die for his country in
1990, that he is indeed a statesman.
believe he knows what’s at stake, that is, the stability of this
country. I believe he will once again, put country before self and do the
the legal wrangles in the aftermath of this election were an uncanny echo
of the American elections. However, the one thing the Leader of the
Opposition, Mr Manning, would do well to learn from the American elections
is that vexatious agitation belongs to the courts before the swearing in.
a leader is sworn in, good sportsmanship is called for. Mr Manning has a
vital place in our politics, and a graceful defeat can only add to that.
Mr Manning, I believe, is the quintessential gentleman and his statement
that “the voice of people is the voice of God” was spontaneous and
gracious. I believe he will put the country before politics, as he has
Mr Panday has on his side, political victory, legal victory, and power. He
has demonstrated thus far, his humility and good manners in his dealings
with the President (which some commentators have misinterpreted as
“inferiority,” believing as they do, that arrogance is a sign of
superiority). The Prime Minister can afford to compromise. He has the
chance to demonstrate his statesmanship by reducing the number of senators
he wants sworn in to four and bring an end to these troubled times.
we trust you all to be statesmen, to do the right thing. There is no
alternative. We believe you will play in good faith, putting country
before self, and act with vision rather than self-interest.