PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) Friday brushed aside as a ‘distraction’ a call by the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) for election observers to arrive in the country this weekend ahead of the August 10 general election.
“The PNM will not be induced into some form of irrelevant discourse to distract from the prevailing matters at hand,” PNM public relations officer, Laurel Lezama- Lee Sing, said in response to the call by UNC Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar.
She said Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley had made it known publicly that he had invited observer teams from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and to the Commonwealth and that the “public will be advised by the government as to the status of the observers in due course.
“We just have to wait on the statement from the government and they will make a comprehensive statement. The PNM as a party has always embraced transparency in the democratic process and this is reflected in our own internal processes and policies,’ she said.
Persad Bissessar said almost two weeks after the government had indicated that invitations had been sent to the two regional and international organisations, “and with just 17 days to go to the August 10th General Election, we have heard nothing more of it.
“With the heightened level of alertness after the new local cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), the window for the required 14-day quarantine period for observers before the election date is closing. The Prime Minister must act immediately to have these observers here by this weekend so they can be cleared in time for the election. “
She said that international observers have in the past, played an important role in Trinidad and Tobago’s elections and that everything must be done “to ensure our tradition of free and fair elections in Trinidad and Tobago is upheld while protecting the health and wellbeing of our nation”.
Meanwhile, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has confirmed that 19 political parties have nominated candidates to contest the polls.
It said there are also four independent candidates among the 146 persons facing the electorate with the PNM contesting all 41 seats in the Parliament and the UNC, 39. The other party with a significant number of candidates is the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) with 28 candidates.
The EBC said that there are 1,134,136 registered electors who will be eligible to cast their vote in the August 10 poll.