“But Trinidad and Tobago is not Guyana.” 

So said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as he responded yesterday to news that the UNC was seeking a recount in five constituencies and that its lawyers were compiling a list of irregularities which the party said occurred during the polling process.     

The party also alleged that the absence of international observers facilitated the irregularities and also cited long lines in places like Gulf View where people had to wait a long time to vote.

But the Prime Minister told the Express the UNC was trying to delay the inevitable-the formation of a new PNM Government-by trying to pull a “Guyana” on Trinidad and Tobago.

The UNC was looking for ways to thwart the formation and the work of the new Government, he said during a phone interview.

“If they are able to go to court, or if they can tie up the recount in four and five seats, they can delay the EBC’s declaration (of the election results) and consequently delay the installation of a new Government. So what in effect they are trying to do is to ‘Guyana-ise’ our election. That is what the UNC is trying to do.

Guyana had an election in March, it wasn’t settled until July. That is what the UNC is promising us here now…Instead of a new government being sworn in, they are trying to create the Guyana situation, with complaints that only they would have seen or experienced and they saw it and experienced it a day after it happened. That is what is going on there.

“We have survived their obstructionism. We will continue so to do,” the Prime Minister said.

UNC: Wasting valuable time

“Didn’t you hear me say before the elections, that the UNC would be looking for ways to go to the courthouse if they lost?” So (they are suggesting that) the observers would have speeded up the lines (at the polling stations)? We had reports from all over the country, before the numbers were counted and everyone was generally in praise of how smoothly the process went in the polling stations. As soon as the numbers have been counted and the UNC has lost, the following day they are coming to raise all kinds of things…I told you all so. None of this surprises me,” Rowley said.

“Because (the UNC) believe that they are entitled to a victory and since the numbers don’t bear this out, somebody has wronged them and therefore they would make up all kinds of stories, all of which I think are to be dismissed because the facts don’t bear that out. We had reports all during the day. Our local media covered and documented the polling and I heard none of that from the local media…I saw (MSJ political leader) David Abdulah coming out of the polling station and speaking glowingly about how well the process was executed.”

“So I will ask the country to dismiss the UNC and their obstructive behaviour. All they are accomplishing here is delaying the process of the swearing in of the Government and as they do that they are also delaying the process of preparing the next budget and all of that goes down under the rubric of wasting valuable time,” the Prime Minister stated.

Making up complaints

The Prime Minister asked rhetorically where the complaints the UNC’s lawyers were compiling come from.

“I guess they are going to file legal challenges again. But they have not yet paid for the costs incurred in 2015 with the election petitions,” he said.

He noted that the petitions involved the same marginal seats which the UNC felt they were “entitled to”.

“In the meantime they are once again obstructing the country’s business…We will sit here and wait until the recounts are finished after which the EBC is expected to declare the seats (in PNM’s favour), and (the Elections and Boundaries Commission), would advise the President of the declaration and of which party has the majority. Then I expect that I will be called upon to be sworn in and to form the next Government,” he said.

None of that will change.

Instead of it happening sooner, it would happen sometime later, he added.

However he said: “In the meantime the country’s business will be brought to a standstill. We (the old Government) will stay in office until there is a change-over, but there ought to be a new government in office so that we can continue what we have to do.”

Duke has complaint, too

He noted that defeated PDP Tobago East candidate (and party leader) Watson Duke was asking for a recount in Tobago East too and his complaint was that during an interview with the media on polling day, Ayanna Webster-Roy asked that Tobagonians support her “or something like that. As if there wasn’t a permanent ask. You are a candidate in a general election campaigning every day, but he is surprised by the fact that somebody asked (people) to support them.”

PNM sources said yesterday that while the figures were preliminary the PNM won the Tobago East seat by 1,200 votes; the San Fernando West seat by close to 3,000 votes (Faris Al-Rawi—10,234 to Sean Sobers—7,492); in Tunapuna the margin of victory was approximatel,100 votes; in St Joseph over 900 votes, in La Horquetta/Talparo, the margin of victory was 2,090 votes and in Toco/Sangre Grande, the PNM won by over 3,000 votes.

They said a recount was usually requested where the margin of victory was fewer than 300 votes.

“It is statistically impossible to have these results changed in a recount and the history of recounts in this country would bear this out,” the source stated.