Economist Anslem Richards believes the six-six deadlock in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) requires a political solution and not a legislative one as is being suggested.
“The THA impasse is a political impasse,” Richards told Newsday.
“We have a political deadlock in terms of the election results and we need a political solution, not a legislative solution per se.”
The People’s National Movement and the Progressive Democratic Patriots each won six electoral districts in the January 25 THA election.
Despite several attempts to resolve the deadlock, one of which included discussion on a power-sharing arrangement, the assembly remains in abeyance because it is yet to be properly constituted.
In the meantime, it is functioning through a “holdover” executive led by Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis.
Richards said the deadlock cannot be fixed through the draft Tobago Self-Government and Island Administration Bills or the proposed THA Amendment Bill.
The latter seeks, in part, to increase, from 12 to 15, the number of electoral districts in Tobago so as to reduce the likelihood of a tie in future THA elections.
The bill, which was assented to by President Paula-Mae Weekes on March 16, is yet to be proclaimed.
Richards applauded the Prime Minister’s decision on March 3 to meet with all 12 assemblymen in an attempt to resolve the impasse.
He believes Dr Rowley should reconvene a meeting with both parties in the interest of advancing Tobago’s democracy.
“I think the Prime Minister, who has claimed in the Parliament that it falls to him to fix the situation, should call back the sides to the discussion table and lead the process by being the mediator.”
Richards regarded Rowley as an “experienced politician,” who can come up with the best political solution to properly constitute the THA.
“He must look at our governance system, even in this time of the pandemic, so that Tobagonians can get the representation that they voted for and not this holdover administration where you have losers being secretaries and all kinds of foolishness happening.”
He believes there would not have been a holdover administration if Rowley was in Opposition.
“Whether intentionally or not, the Prime Minister is complicit in this matter (deadlock) and he needs to provide the kind of leadership that is required.”