Sunday 15 December, 2019

PM admits: Bad judgement call on Marlene

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has confessed that he may have exercised poor judgement in dealing with the Marlene McDonald fiasco.

Responding to questions from reporters at the Post Cabinet media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s on Thursday, he publicly addressed the criminal charges facing Port-of-Spain South MP Marlene McDonald for the first time since she was charged last week.

He maintained that he acted quickly to remove McDonald from Cabinet as soon as he had all the facts in the matter before him.

“The first time I had any information from an official source came to me around 10.30 on Thursday night. That was the first time an official told me in my official capacity as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago that this Minister was being charged and that charges were being written up at that time.”

Questioned as to whether he made a bad judgement call in treating with the matter, Rowley admitted that, to some extent, this was the case.

“In hindsight, I would say yes. But at the time, I could only work with the information I had.”

But, the Prime Minister said being under investigation was not an indictment.

He said in spite criticism from various sectors in the face of the debacle, there was no crisis at play, but a “strong Government making changes for the better and for the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago”.

No by-election for Port-of-Spain South

McDonald will retain her position as MP for the Port-of-Spain South constituency.

Asked whether a by-election would be held in light of the charges against McDonald, Rowley said there was no reason for McDonald to resign as MP.

“Until there is a vacancy in Port-of-Spain South, there can be no by-election. What creates a vacancy in Port-of-Spain South? The demise and absence of a Member of Parliament,” the Prime Minister explained.

He said there was no reason to jump the gun as the circumstance did not arise.

Pressed further on whether it was not his discretion to request McDonald’s resignation as MP, Rowley insisted that he exercised his discretion.

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