Trinidad Elections: UNC telling supporters they were cheated – says PM Rowley

Trinidad Express – 12 August 2020

  • A huge undercurrent of racism is now the outcome of the 2020 election.

So said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday as he pointed to a “very dangerous development ta­king place”.

“What the UNC is doing is telling the East Indian population that they have won the election, but they were cheated by the PNM. You only have to go to social media to see the effect of that, a huge undercurrent of racism is now the outcome of this election.

“And that is the purpose of this (attempt to delay the process by recounts) because the UNC leadership is fuelling the East Indian population that this is not a legitimate victory of the PNM and that the election has been stolen,” he said.     

Speaking on CNC3’s Morning Brew programme where he was interviewed by Natalee Ligoure, Rowley said: “There is a very dangerous development taking place. I accept that recounts are the call of the candidate or his agent…. But there are three things that the UNC is doing here. One is to disrupt the process so as to prevent a smooth flow of the country’s governance system.

“The swearing in (of the members of the Government) would have ta­ken place today had those recounts not been called. But this disruption has a purpose and that is to delegitimise the Government’s victory. And that has a purpose…to incite a section of the population. They are laying the foundation and because it has an ethnic favour to it, it is dangerous.

“What the UNC is doing by this approach, where you have a difference (in the margin of victory) of 2,000 to 3,000 votes and you calling for a recount, it is to tell their population who supports them, they have been cheated.

“In 2015, the UNC did this…. They went to court to challenge five (marginal) seats that were won with bigger margins than the two (marginal) seats that they had won, attempting to get the court to overturn the results,” he said.

He said he saw a university lecturer describing the defeat and erroneously ascribing it to PNM organising the boundaries of seats so that the PNM would always win elections.

PNM LOST PREVIOUS ELECTIONS

Pointing out the PNM lost office several times, Rowley said: “Apparently, this was not so when the PNM lost 33-3 and not so when the PNM lost in 2000, and all those times when the PNM lost.”

PM: I didn’t declare victory too early

The Prime Minister said he was amazed he was being criticised in an Express editorial for declaring victory “before the Opposition came to their senses”.

The Prime Minister said he waited until the PNM had 21 seats before declaring victory for his party at Balisier House. He said he was getting results from the polling stations, results which are signed off by an electoral officer.

“I waited until I got 21 seats (the PNM won 22 seats) and the EBC signed off on the numbers; what do you want me to do? Say we have lost the election?” he said.

The Prime Minister reiterated he acted early enough in trying to get international observers for the election.

He said the Commonwealth indicated the financial requirements were not within their remit while Caricom could not get a sufficient number of persons interested in coming to another country and going into quarantine before observing elections.

Asked whether the presence of observers would have made a difference to the UNC’s response to the election result, the Prime Minister said there were observers in the country in 2015 and that did not prevent them from going to the court with the five election petitions.    

 

RACISM IN TRINDAD & TOBAGO ELECTIONS

The elections in Trinidad and Tobago has been highly charged with racism. It was also a feature in the 2015 Elections won by the PNM.

The racism cauldron was aided in a big part by comments made regarding the “blackness” of Prime Minister Rowley.  They were made in the 2015 elections and again in the 2020 elections. Rowley says the PNM has won and the UNC is contesting the results in five seats where they lost by a small margin.

No doubt the racial remarks of Pamela Persad-Bissessar, the UNC leader, galvanized many voters to vote for the PNM.

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