Hosein slams PM for childish behaviour on defeated motion

Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein says the questions raised by the United National Congress were largely unanswered and has labelled Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as “childish” for not properly understanding how last week’s motion to remove president Paula-Mae Weekes should have been handled.

Hosein made the comment during a media briefing the party hosted yesterday, as it continued its autopsy into the defeated motion to remove the President.

The bid failed on Thursday, garnering only 24 votes in agreement and 47 votes against. However, the motion and the meeting of the Electoral College itself were marred by constant interruptions by the members of the Opposition and peppered with attacks against House Speaker Brigid Annisette-George and thunderous desk thumping and accusations of muted mics.

Yesterday, Hosein said the country still did not know who interfered with the Police Service Commission’s merit list for a police commissioner and what caused it to be withdrawn the same day it was supposed to be delivered to Weekes. He once again reiterated that the country was in a constitutional crisis because of the Prime Minister.

“The central pillars to this fiasco is the Office of the President and the Office of the Prime Minister. We must not forget the office of the Prime Minister in this,” Hosein said.

“Before we filed this motion, the leader of the Opposition, together with members of the Opposition, we did our due diligence. We provided opportunities to the President through public calls to identify or tell the country the identity of the public official that was facilitated at the President’s House at around the time of the delivery of the merit list.”

That call, Hosein said, was met with “deafening silence.”

However, he said that the UNC maintains that it wanted answers.

“We didn’t want answers for ourselves alone, we wanted answers for the people of the Republic of T&T,” he said.

Rowley and the entire Government bench remained silent during Thursday’s motion and the eruptions from the Opposition.

Both Rowley and Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar held press conferences after the motion was defeated. But Hosein said the PM, instead of calling a media conference to air his side, should have stood up during the Electoral College meeting “like a man.”

“The country was absolutely shocked and appalled that the Speaker of the House of Representatives decided to silence the Parliament by not allowing a debate,” Hosein said.

Hosein said disclosure should have been facilitated although the Constitution does not allow for a debate at that stage of the proceedings. He argued that whenever there is a challenge, the Constitution must be given room for “generous interpretation.”

“It means that if you have a right to speak in the Parliament and there is a resolution, you weigh on the side of the public interest, you weigh on the side of allowing members to speak. That is the right of freedom of speech,” he said.

He said again that on the day of the motion, Parliament “muted the microphones” of the UNC. This accusation was also made during the motion and Annisette-George denied muting the microphones. She said that the enthusiastic desk-thumping by the Opposition was responsible for the technical glitch.

“This is not the first time this has happened, it is habitual,” Hosein said yesterday.

“Motions are for debate,” he added.

On Thursday, Rowley criticised the short motion read by the Opposition leader and said that she had to include all the particulars she wished to discuss within that motion. He noted that there is no room for amendments or expansions after the motion is submitted, and the process must stick within the parameters of only what is submitted. Rowley said then that if Persad-Bissessar wanted to submit 500 pages, she could have done so.

But Hosein yesterday said this is simply not true. He said a motion cannot be over 250 words.

“So that is a very foolish and childish argument that the Prime Minister is making. How can you detail all the particulars in the motion when there is a word limit?” he asked.

The UNC has vowed to keep pushing for responses on the PSC fiasco and has launched its October Revolution initiative to mobilise its grassroots supporters. Persad-Bissessar has also suggested that the party could also soon launch a motion on no-confidence in Rowley.

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