Persad Bissessar Sworn in as Opposition Leader


PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 25, CMC – Former Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, 67, was sworn in as the opposition leader on Tuesday, promising to lead a “formidable” team that would work in the best interest of Trinidad and Tobago.

Persad Bissessar, who led the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) in the August 10 general election, said that the opposition would seek to provide support for Trinidad and Tobago’s development both inside and out of the Parliament, which is due to hold its first session here on Friday.

But she warned that “my colleagues and I will no longer be used as an excuse for poor governance and poor performance.”

“We will not be painted as an obstructionist but I tell you we pledge to work in the best interest of all the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” she said, adding, “We will stand strong and resolute in commitment to a better Trinidad and Tobago.”

She said Trinidad and Tobago and indeed the world are facing “dark times” as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) “and all I can say is let us pledge to work together” promising that the opposition will make its contribution to the socio-economic development of the oil rich twin island republic.

She said that the population had become more informed, more vocal on national issues ‘and whilst we may not always agree with the manner in which things are expressed, I am encouraged that our societies demonstrate in the power of the people that the power of the people is stronger than the people in power”.

She said she was thankful to her colleagues for putting their trust in her becoming Opposition Leader, a reference to calls that had surfaced following the electoral defeat for her to step down as both Opposition leader and leader of the party.

“I thought long and hard before accepting this appointment, your Excellency, I weighed all the pros and cons. I listened to the opinions offered and the support for our great party continues to pour in and it became more and more obvious to me that my work is not yet complete and therefore I thank you today for this appointment,” Persad-Bissessar noted.

She said she has propelled many young “brilliant MPs into the parliament” and that her colleagues and party represent the hope for a better Trinidad and Tobago.”

Persad Bissessar, who has served more than 27 years in public life, including become the first woman to head a government here, said that “together with my team to continue to fight for you with our last breaths.”

“Fighting for a cause does not mean one should have a title, an office or accolade. It means one must be prepared to do all in your power to achieve what you believe in. I am prepared to continue to fight against injustice with or without office,” she said.

The UNC was defeated by a 22-19 margin by the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) in the general election, and Persad Bissessar took more than a week before conceding defeat after her party challenged the outcome of the results in five constituencies. – CMC