Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday that the alleged plot to assassinate her and other cabinet ministers was linked to the Government’s success in the fight against criminals, including drug lords, since the state of emergency was imposed on August 21. She said so during the post-Cabinet news briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. It was Persad-Bissessar’s first public comment on a reported plot to assassinate her and other cabinet ministers, among them Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Housing and the Environment Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma.
“They (law enforcement officers) have thwarted what was an evil, devious act of treason against the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” the Prime Minister said. “We are flushing them (criminals) out, we are making it almost impossible for them to operate as they would have done in the past. “These nefarious elements, with the support from others, whose names will come to light in time, are finally confronted by a government which possesses the political will, courage and strength of conviction to stoutly defend and protect the citizens of this country.”
She said the State would not cow or negotiate with the criminal element. “We are hurting them in their pockets,” she added. Persad-Bissessar said the plot was an attempt by the criminal element in T&T “to make good on their threats to carry out reprisals.” She said the plot had only served to strengthen her commitment to fight criminals in this country. Persad-Bissessar praised law enforcement officers for uncovering the alleged plot.
Several cabinet ministers attended the briefing as a show of support for the Prime Minister. Many of them openly shared jokes about the matter before the news conference began. There was heightened security at the PM’s official residence and Diplomatic Centre. Barriers were placed on La Fantasie Road leading to the compound. Persad-Bissessar said the Government discovered drugs with a street value of $1.5 billion since the state of emergency was declared.
She said “each bullet found was a life saved. “We will stop at nothing to ensure that we keep the citizenry of T&T safe and to return our country to the peaceful state we once enjoyed,” she added. She said T&T was now safer that it had ever been in the last decade. The PM said she spoke with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley about the matter and Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs would inform him on the information gathered with respect to the assassination plot.
Asked if the alleged threat was likely to affect her public engagements, Persad-Bissessar said: “No, not at all, I intend to keep my public engagements as far as I can. I will be hampered with the extra security but noting is going stop me.” The PM stressed: “I trust in God and my concern remains for the people of T&T. A central businessman, two soldiers who were dishonourably discharged from the Defence Force a few years ago, a police sergeant and son of a businessmen, now deceased, were among the 12 people detained for investigations into the plot.
She said she was concerned that members of the protective services may be linked with the plot but added that there were bad elements in many professions, including journalism. She said it was disturbing but “not something that should be totally unexpected…for years we have been hearing about bad element within the law enforcement agencies…so nothing surprises me anymore.”
Persad-Bissessar said there was no decision to reintroduce the curfew and the state of emergency was being reviewed each day. Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs did not give any details of the alleged plot during the same news conference. Persad-Bissessar said to reveal details would have been reckless.