PORT-OF-SPAIN – “A strategy designed to prevent me from raising matters of public interest.”
This is how Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley views the issuing of pre-action protocol letters by Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Local Government Minister Suruj Rambachan against him for statements made in respect of the e-mail allegations.
Rowley said, however, he had an oath of office to keep the public informed on matters of public interest and to stay true to that oath to act without fear or favour, without malice or ill will.
Rowley noted once a writ is filed, one is circumscribed as to how the matter (of the e-mails) can be raised.
“Once it gets into the judicial process, one has to be very circumspect in how one deals with it. But it still remains a matter of profound public interest and, as Opposition Leader, I have to discharge my responsibilities between these two strictures,” he said.
Rowley said he wanted the public to see the matter for what it was in terms of the efforts that have been made since May 20 to treat with this matter. “You would see that this is a continuation of an approach (by the Government) to have the matter viewed in a particular way,” he said.
Rowley’s lawyer, Senator Faris Al-Rawi, said up to the time of the interview yesterday (5 p.m.) he had not received anything other than the first page of the pre-action protocol letters. “We have not been served with anything at all. So we don’t know what we are answering,” he said.
He said his summation as to what this was all about was: a) it was an attempt to overreach the issue of privilege in Parliament by seemingly making an allegation of statements made outside of Parliament and trying to connect the two; b) a continuation of lawsuits against the Leader of the Opposition. “This is the fourth lawsuit by the Attorney General against the Opposition Leader for what the PNM considers to be its lawful discharge of the duties of the Leader of the Opposition from a constitutional perspective,” he said.
Al-Rawi said the third issue was that this filing of pre-action procotol letters was “a very convenient attempt to change the conversation away from the bloody warfare and cannibalism that is going on in Chaguanas West”.
Al-Rawi said, however, that the PNM had “absolutely no fear” of the Prime Minister, the Attorney General or the Local Government Minister.
“If they choose to sue Dr Rowley, then so be it. This is a democracy. I can tell you that we will stoutly defend anything that comes,” he said.