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TT Prime Minister defends her visit to US while country under state of emergency

NOT INDISPENSIBLE: TT Prime Minister defends her visit to US while country under state of emergency
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar returned here on Tuesday defending her brief visit to the United States where she addressed the special United Nations Conference on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) as well as attending a women’s conference on Monday.

Persad Bissessar said she had been aware of the criticism of her visit given the fact that Trinidad and Tobago has been under a state of emergency (SOE) since August 21.

Radio and television talk shows, as well as other critics have condemned the decision by the Prime Minister to leave the country, which is also under a five hour curfew. They have also been critical of the decision by President George Maxwell Richards to leave the country on his annual vacation after having signed the proclamation imposing the SOE.

“I am not surprised at the comments, I had to think long and hard in making the decision to go at all,” Prime Minister Persad Bissessar told reporters upon her return from the United States following the 24 hour visit.

She said she had first intended to be in the United States for seven days attending various meetings “(but) I made the decision and opted to go for one day.

“I do not think my absence from the country for one day will in any seriously impact on the governance. In deed I am not indispensible, there are others who can hold the ship of state in my absence,” she told reporters.

A government statement issued here late on Monday said that Persad Bissessar was curtailing “her scheduled seven day visit to the United Nations General Assembly to one day, in order to ensure that the country continues to receive her undivided attention”.

it noted that the Prime Minister’s seven day visit would have included meetings with US Secretary of State,. Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, the launch of the UNDP Human Development Report on Citizens Security in Trinidad and Tobago, and a formal reception hosted by United States President and Mrs. Obama.

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