Speaking to reporters after yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony of members of her new Cabinet at Knowsley Building, Port-of-Spain, she told reporters Manning did not ask for security, but she was of the view that he needs to be treated with respect because of the Office he once held.
“He should have respect as a leader. More than 200,000 persons voted for him and we should respect that,” Persad-Bissessar said, noting that a vehicle and security would be provided for Manning.
Her comments came a day after Manning faced a rowdy crowd of disenchanted PNM supporters at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain, moments after he tendered his resignation as PNM political leader to the PNM General Council.
As his Prado SUV drove away on that day (Thursday) the rowdy crowd hurled verbal insults at Manning and hit the sides of the vehicle. Police had to be called in.
Persad-Bissessar also said yesterday that President George Maxwell Richards had declined her invitation for him to take up residence at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence and Diplomatic Centre in La Fantasie, St Ann’s and as such, she will take up residence there.
Asked when she would move in, Persad-Bissessar said, “I don’t know if there is any hurry. Mr Manning should be given every opportunity to vacate the house.” Persad-Bissessar spent her first day at the Office of the Prime Minister where, hours before the swearing-in, she met Manning who formally handed-over to her the Office, at 1pm.
While it was a tense and disappointed looking Manning who left Balisier House on Thursday night as he was taunted and insulted by PNM supporters, his demeanour was considerably relaxed yesterday as he was received by Persad-Bissessar in a state room on the third floor of his former office. While as Prime Minister, he received many dignitaries and other important visitors in this room, this time around, Manning was the guest and Persad-Bissessar was his hostess.
She wore a bright orange dress while Manning wore a light grey business suit. With the heat of the election campaign behind them, Persad-Bissessar and Manning each sat on plush leather seats adjacent to each other. They smiled at each other and laughed as they chatted amicably for nearly 20 minutes. As he stood up to leave the room for the last time, Manning smiled and clasped Persad-Bissessar’s extended right hand with both of his hands as he bid her farewell.
Manning chatted with some of his former employees as he walked towards the elevator. He declined to answer questions from reporters who were in the elevator with him.
“Let’s enjoy the ride,” he said. The reporters got off on the ground floor while the elevator carried Manning to the basement of the building where his private vehicle was waiting to carry him back to San Fernando.
Before her meeting with Manning, Persad-Bissessar met with employees of the Office of the PM on the ground floor when she arrived at 12.45 pm. While the majority of the employees present were women, all of them without exception, warmly greeted the new Prime Minister who spent a few minutes chatting briefly with each of them.