PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The leader of the main opposition United National Congress (UNC), Kamla Persad Bissessar, Monday, accused Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley of calling a general election during the deadly coronavirus (CPVID-19) pandemic, questioning whether or not his administration had been truthful with the population about the virus.
Persad Bissessar, who during the months leading up to the August 10 poll, had been calling on the government to announce the date for the election, said in a message posted on her Facebook page that “the fact remains, however, that the Rowley Government alone had access to, and control over, the true statistics and data of the COVID-19 spread in T&T.
“Yet, they bluntly refused to come clean with the population at every possible turn,” she wrote.
“Now, just one week later, we are in a clear, possibly uncontrollable health crisis and another lockdown. Indeed, heads must roll!,” she wrote, adding “then PM Rowley called an election during this deadly pandemic, a decision only he could have made”.
Persad Bissessar has so far refused to concede defeat in the general election in which, according to the preliminary results released by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), the PNM won 22 of the 41 seats in the Parliament.
Defeated UNC candidates have requested recounts in five constitutes, including in areas where they lost by more than 1,000 votes. So far, the EBC has said that the recounts have been completed in four of the five constituencies with the resulting remaining the same.
Persad Bissessar, who is under pressure to step down as Opposition Leader, having led the party into defeat in more than five elections, said that Trinidad and Tobago is spiralling into a possibly “uncontrollable” COVID-19 health crisis, with Prime Minister Rowley “belatedly” announcing new lockdown measures that go into effect on Monday.
“This, even as the number of COVID-19 positive cases keeps alarmingly and dramatically increasing on a daily basis. More people are also tragically dying,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Health authorities here are reporting 401 active cases as the number of positive cases as of late Sunday reached 552. There have been 11 deaths with the latest coming on Saturday when a 44-year-old father of three succumbed to the virus in the south of the island.
Persad Bissessar questioned whether or not the population had been “”deliberately and disturbingly lulled into a false sense of security by the Rowley government and health technocrats as to the true incidence of coronavirus before the general election.
“Was there a cover-up plot among these officials? Since January, the Rowley Government falsely claimed they had a pandemic plan, and belatedly closed our borders. Their sham, inadequate testing policy then failed every possible international standard.
“Still, they kept insisting that there was no community spread and very low incidence of COVID positive cases. Citizens believed them and were falsely convinced that they were safe to resume their daily activities.” wrote Persad Bissessar, who has not been seen in public since the general election last Monday.
“It is really not surprising that the Rowley Government chose to put its political agenda before the lives and safety of citizens in this truly disturbing debacle. But what is the excuse of the Health Ministry’s technocrats?
“They are the ones who are entrusted with the sacred responsibility of protecting citizens’ health and lives without fear or favour. It is they, therefore, who should have stood up against the political directorate in the interest of protecting the people of this country.
“It is they who should have told us the truth. This remains their mandate. We, the people, at least deserve to know why it has come to this dangerous state of affairs, where the lives, health and safety of an entire population are now compromised and endangered. We need answers now,” the UNC leader wrote on her Facebook page.