Even as Maharaj made this declaration, he disclosed that the Opposition intends to once again make a bid to have its own motion on crime debated in Parliament on Monday, as a motion to adjourn the House on a matter of urgent public importance.
The push for a national front government was announced by Maharaj after the UNC held its caucus at Rienzi Complex, Couva, last evening while the PNM was having a caucus of its own at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain.
“A national unity Government is one where the Government needs input from the Opposition where some Opposition members become Government Ministers,” Maharaj said. One example of such a Government was the one which formed India’s government between 1989 and 1991.
He added that if Prime Minister Patrick Manning was open to such an accommodation with the Opposition, he should “take this to the population” and then they could proceed.
The former Attorney General made it clear that a national front government was the only positive way the Opposition could give meaningful assistance to Government in dealing with rampant crime.
Maharaj said the Government itself appeared to suggest that a coalition was necessary. “If the government takes the position that it needs the assistance of the Opposition for the Government to fight crime and for crime to be controlled, the Govern-ment is therefore saying in effect that it needs a national front government to deal with crime,” he said.
Maharaj, who was flanked by UNC deputy political leader Jack Warner and Senate Minority Leader Wade Mark at the press conference, said the party would take part in a crime debate, but that it would be based on its own motion which it intended to file as a matter of urgent public importance.
Prime Minister Manning yesterday at a business conference insisted Government will table and debate its own motion on crime at Monday’s sitting, with or without the Opposition’s support. This scenario leaves House Speaker Barry Sinanan in a tight spot as to which motion he will allow to be heard.
At the ceremonial opening of the Ninth Parliament on December 17, Maharaj gave Speaker Sinanan an envelope which contained the UNC’s original motion. This envelope was tossed aside. The House Speaker is facing a bias charge from Maharaj’s Civil Rights Association over this incident. The Government’s motion is expected to ask the House to take note of what it has done on crime while the Opposition motion will ask government to tell the population what relief they will be bringing to citizens traumatised by rampant crime.
Maharaj reiterated that the UNC is not prepared to assist the Government to hoodwink the population into believing that any crime motion the Patrick Manning administration filed would make citizens safe and secure. He said that the Opposition plans to ask Sinanan for an adjournment of the House on Monday for the purpose of discussing its motion as a matter of urgent public importance. He said the issue is not whether there should be a motion in the Parliament by Govern-ment to debate crime, but the urgent need for Government to take immediate and effective action to protect the population.
“The Government cannot be serious in asking for help to draft a motion for it to file in Parliament so that both the Opposition and the Government can debate crime,” Maharaj said.
“If the Government cannot draft such a motion then it ought to leave office,” he added.He made it clear that the Opposition will on Monday give Government all of 15 minutes in Parliament to state what action, if any, it intends to take to arrest the crime situation.
Maharaj hammered home his point that the Government did not have a clue on dealing with the crime problem and criticised the $14 billion that has been spent to deal with crime in its two terms.
He said the Opposition has an anti-crime plan which if implemented could see a dramatic decrease in crime.
He said that what the government will be really doing on Monday is congratulating itself for some of the measures implemented.
“This is just plenty ole talk and cover up,” Maharaj said.