Monday 22nd March, 2004

 

PM to talk on Achong move

 
 
 
 
 
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Prime Minister Patrick Manning is expected to speak today on the resignation of PNM MP Lawrence Achong from the Cabinet two weeks ago.

Speaking after the PNM’s general council meeting yesterday, party chairman Franklin Khan said Manning hinted to members how he was going to deal with the matter today.

But he said very little on the PM’s decision.

Last Thursday, Manning said Achong was still a part of his Cabinet, since his resignation as Labour Minister had not yet been accepted.

Achong did not attend yesterday’s meeting, and Manning left without speaking to reporters.

However, Khan said the general council expressed its feelings on the issue after Manning made a comprehensive statement to members.

He said the PNM membership fully endorsed the approach taken by its leader.

But he said the party still viewed the embattled Point Fortin MP as a valuable member of the party and Government.

Efforts to have Achong return to the Cabinet have so far yielded little success, sources have said.

Manning journeyed to Point Fortin on Saturday, to hold discussions with the constituency executive.

But no one in the PNM would say what Manning has decided.

“It is hard to say what direction the PM is heading. He is playing his cards close to his chest. He has listened to all involved, but it is difficult to say what he is thinking at this point,” one source said.

But another pointed to several comments made by Achong since his resignation.

“He has made some strong comments and not all of them positive. It has been an eye-opener, and who knows how much of what has been said will impact on the PM’s decision?” the source said.

In the Face to Face interview in yesterday’s Sunday Guardian, Achong admitted he was unhappy with the way the Government and Cabinet were proceeding.

He also said at times the PM came across as a one-man government.

Since his departure from Cabinet, Achong has joined his protesting constituents on the picket line at the multi-billion Atlantic LNG Train IV plant site in their fight for higher wages.

But despite this, the PNM’s chairman insisted that there was no fallout in Achong’s constituency as a result of his resignation from Government.

“A fallout is non-existent,” he said.

He said the Point Fortin executive was assured by Manning that Achong’s resignation did not place them at any disadvantage and that they would continue to be supported by the party.

Khan also refused to speculate on the possibility of a by-election if the party decides to ask Achong to resign from the PNM.

“We don’t want to go there yet,” he said.

“There has been no change in his position (in the PNM)... the only thing that has changed is that he has left the Government,” Khan added.

©2003-2004 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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