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Kamla “Still Willing” To Meet On Crime

“Don’t back back, for heaven’s sake, please do something about crime!”

So said Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday, as she issued a fresh appeal for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to meet with the Opposition and hold bi-partisan crime talks.

Persad-Bissessar told the Express the entire country was waiting with bated breath to hear some plan from the prime minister to tackle the crime scourge, but instead there was nothing to provide any hope or any kind of comfort to a population ­under siege.

She said contrary to what Rowley has been saying, she remains willing to meet, pointing out that at his news conference yesterday he indicated he never said he would not meet with her and her team.

In a release issued later, Persad-Bissessar invited the prime minister to join her at the next anti-crime talks, scheduled for February 19.

Persad-Bissessar noted these talks, hosted by the Opposition Leader’s office, are a non-political platform where Rowley can present to the population his viewpoints on crime, challenge her viewpoints directly to her face, hear the feedback from citizens in real time, and answer burning questions from the people.

Responding to comments made by the PM at his news conference yesterday at Whitehall, Port of Spain, Persad-Bissessar issued a release pointing out that the UNC has supported over 35 pieces of legislation in the last nine years, “something that Rowley continues to ignore when trying to craft his false narrative that the UNC does not support the government’s legislative agenda in Parliament”.

Irrational blame

Persad-Bissessar said Rowley again failed yesterday to present a multidisciplinary approach to deal with the violent crime crisis that has overwhelmed the country.

“Instead, he directed irrational blame at the bureaucratic system, which by the way is the same system that has existed for many years while the country was much safer and better… he ignored the fact that he has been prime minister for almost nine years and in 2015 he promised national safety and security through a ‘whole of government’ approach.”

Persad-Bissessar said Rowley opted for evasion and hedging instead of replacing Fitzgerald Hinds as Minister of National Security.

“His government also continues to support a Commissioner of Police who has not met the minimum standard of performance in any aspect of her important duties.

“No responsible leader who witnessed Erla Christopher’s national security JSC appearance would support her remaining in the office of commissioner of police,” she said.

She said after spending millions of dollars, instituting various enquiries, hosting a Caricom conference, and terming crime “a public health issue”, Rowley is still presiding over a deteriorating security state.

Persad-Bissessar reminded that she has always maintained the Opposition will support good law and she stands by that.

“Where we are today has nothing to do with any lack of support from the UNC, civil society, or the protective services.

“This government is unable to operationalise and implement passed legislation due to incompetent personnel at the highest levels in the Ministry of National Security and at the National Security ­Council,” she said.

“The saying ‘A poor carpenter blames his tools’ clearly applies to Rowley’s presentation as he continues to blame me, the UNC, the police, the former police commissioner, the citizens, parents and now the bureaucracy,” she added.

Persad-Bissessar reminded that Rowley should refer to his own statement as Opposition Leader in 2012 when he said: “…if the Government can’t deal with it (crime) then the government itself is part of the ­problem”.

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