TT marks 49th Independence under a state of emergency

TT marks 49th Independence under a state of emergency

Thursday, September 01, 2011

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Trinidad and Tobago is celebrating its 49th year of political independence from Britain under a state of emergency, an eight-hour curfew and President George Maxwell Richards saying now is the opportune time for citizens to reflect on the supreme law of the land.

The Kamla Persad Bissessar lead coalition People's Partnership government put the oil-rich twin island republic under a state of emergency and a curfew since August 21 as it sought to deal with the rising crime situation in the country.

So far nearly 900 people, including more than 33 gang leaders and members have been detained under the measures and the government has already signalled that it will seek an extension of the state of emergency when the parliament meets tomorrow. There is also the possibility that the eight-hour curfew would be reduced.

In his Independence Day message, President Richards said that the country must continue to build on its achievements over the years but there was also need for reflection.

"None of us can deny that we are in troubling times, as is the rest of the world, and as the world is certainly looking at us, we as individuals and collectively, must take a deep introspective look at ourselves.

"We did not come to this place suddenly, so shock would hardly be appropriate, in the circumstance. Blame and posturing cannot help us either and so we must , if we say we love our country above self and mean it, do what is necessary to bring us back from the edge, to which we are dangerously close," he said.

The head of state said that what is necessary remains a question that may be answered, only partially, by some of the action that may be regarded as "inevitable".

"We cannot succeed if we do not ask ourselves how we came to this place of tension. Everyone has an opinion, I am sure, but none of us can afford to be insensitive to the issues that pervade our society. We have been spared some of the tragedies that beset other nations, some of them post-colonial like ours, but we cannot trust to luck."

The President said that as the country celebrates 49 years of Independence, "from now and in the future, it cannot be business as usual for any of us."

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