night of December 10 was a moment of truth. The picong, play-acting and
posturing was over and there was no way for either of the leaders to gloss
over the results. Eighteen/Eighteen can only mean Eighteen/Eighteen. There
is no other way of putting it. No one was the outright victor.
at the expressions of expectation on the faces of the crowds at Balisier
House and Rienzi Complex, I realised how desperate our people are to
believe that someone, ‘up there’ will help them get water, or books, a
job, or pension.
could almost see them thinking, “will this mean I won’t get a
month’s salary before Christmas?” or “I really wanted those thousand
dollars for my sons secondary schooling.” or
“will I be victimised if the other side gets into power?”
realised, as they nodded mindlessly at their leaders, Africans in one
camp, Indians at the other, how un-empowered, how brainwashed, and as a
result, how utterly dependent supporters are on their political parties.
they voted for the politician of their own race? Hadn’t they done what
they were told? They waited,
bewildered in their leaders’ camps, to be told what to think.
heaved a huge sigh of relief when I heard the leaders of the UNC and PNM
tell their captive audience, to do the right thing. “We have a good
chance of forming the Government, but if this is to happen we have to
embrace the other large tribe, and people who are not in our camp. If I am
to be Prime Minister, we must invite all races and creeds into the fold.
Be calm. Go home.”
sun rose to the faces of two men, who, while they were larger than life
while they campaigned, looked their age, tired. You could clearly see a
very human struggle in them. Ambition wrestled with responsibility. They
had a debt to the people who brought them this far. But the office they
seek is one that requires the support of the majority of the country.
it stands, neither of them have that. The people’s votes cracked the
country open like a giant cutlass on a watermelon, in three. Those who
support them, those who support the other side, and the smaller piece,
those who support neither (at least 30 percent).
major parties recognised that a government of national unity, a shared
prime ministership, a joint Cabinet would break the deadlock. But again,
note that struggle, “Not if I’m not Prime Minister,” or “I can’t
is talk of changing the constitution, of proportional representation, but
changing the constitution requires a two-third majority, and we don’t
are calling the national unity coalition option a charade, a cynical
political option for both leaders to gain power at any cost.
ideals behind a government of national unity, sharing power making
“partisan agendas secondary to the national interest” as Mr Panday put
it, are commendable.
in Trinidad and Tobago’s context can this concept of national unity work
between parties that have been calling one another nasty names such as
corrupt and impotent?
is highly unlikely the coalition will work. Our experience of governments
based on expediency rather than the will of the majority of people, has
demonstrated repeatedly how fragile coalitions are and will, in the long
run, only serve only to erode faith in the democratic process.
the Prime Minister dissolved the Parliament the last time, the country was
run by a Prime Minister, (Basdeo Panday) an AG (Kamla Persad-Bissesser)
and very capable public servants.
own suggestion is the following scenario:
President should immediately appoint a Prime Minister to take over the
country whose government will fall within days because it will not have a
majority in the lower house.
will be dissolved for a new election. Once again, the country will be run
by a caretaker Prime Minister and Attorney General.
President should then use moral suasion to ensure the caretaker Prime
Minister appoints a member of the Opposition as Attorney General to keep
the new election is held, the President should “request” the Prime
Minister (again, using moral suasion) to set up two bi-partisan
commissions of inquiry to report within 30 days. One, into corruption, to
present facts (not speculation or opinion) including suggestions on how to
prevent corruption in public office. And the other into the workings of
the Elections and Boundaries Commission.
should commence once the results of these inquiries are made public. Both
parties have their traditional voters who will support them come hell or
high water. It is hoped that by dealing with issues essential to the
well-being of the country, the 30 per cent of the population who did not
vote will come out to vote giving one of the parties a majority. To do
this both parties must address issues including rising crime, the diseased
state of our health service, the effect of the drop in oil price from the
budgeted $22.00 to $16.50 on our economy, the education system, and
is likely that the majority will be small, but workable. Small
majorities will go some way to decreasing the power of the ‘maximum
leader’, as one economist put it and lead to more sharing of power as
each MP becomes more necessary.
mature solution is to educate our population and politicians so
ultimately, we vote not for a puppet or a leader of a party, (ie along
racial lines), but a candidate whom we are convinced will represent our
interests honestly, efficiently, effectively, and will be accountable to
ideal is to keep people, rather than leaders, or race, central to the