Keith Rowley___use

 Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has invited Caricom and Commonwealth observer missions to Trinidad and Tobago.

A release from the ­Office of the Prime Minister confirmed the Prime Minister yesterday wrote to Caricom Secretary Gene­ral Irwin ­LaRocque and Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland, QC, inviting them to send election observation missions to observe the Trinidad and Tobago processes and operations in the upcoming ­parliamentary ­election, which will be held on ­August 10.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-­Bissessar had written to the Prime Minister, requesting that international observer teams be invited to observe the poll next month. She had asked for observers from the United Nations, Caricom, Common­wealth and The Carter Center be invited to T&T, noting that international election observation was an “important mechanism for ensuring election integrity”.

She said: “The UNC is of the firm view that international observers are needed to ensure that our election is conducted in a free, fair and just manner that will reflect the true mandate of the people.”

Stating citizens were paying close attention to the Government’s ­position on the call for the international observers for this general election, Persad-Bissessar said a ­responsible government should do the right thing to ensure not just free and fair elections, but elections are free of fear.

Opposition ‘nonsense’

Five other political leaders have supported Persad-Bissessar’s call for observers—Progressive ­Demo­cratic Patriots leader Watson Duke, ­Congress of the People leader Carolyn Seepersad Bachan, Progressive ­Empowerment Party leader Philip Edward Alexander, Progressive ­Party leader Nikoli Edwards and Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah.

Abdulah, however, was specific, saying his party supported only ­Caricom observers.

The Prime Minister responded by saying he had no problem with having international observers in T&T for the election. He said he has no hesitation in saying that at the end of the day, he was certain the observers would conclude the T&T election was free and fair, and free from fear.

However, the Prime Minister said he had no doubt the Opposition Leader would still find some “­nonsense” to run to the courts with, once the election results are not in her favour, like she did in 2015.

Noting the UNC under Persad-­Bissessar sought to get seats won by the PNM in the 2015 election ­declared in its favour, the Prime Minister said: “I have absolutely no doubt that she would do the same thing again and, worse, in this 2020 general election, when the PNM ­defeats the UNC.”

The Prime Minister charged that the Opposition Leader was laying the groundwork for explaining her electoral defeat.

“She has already picked a team of kindergarten people to vote for her as Opposition Leader when she gets defeated,” he said. He said the observers will have to arrive in T&T during the week of July 19 so that they can be quarantined before the election and come out of quarantine in time to observe the election and the actual poll.

• See Page 12 Editorial

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