PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar Monday cast her vote in the general election here, expressing disappointment that international election observers were not able to be present to monitor the polls.
“It is very unfortunate that we did not have international observers but I call upon all our nationals to be national observers and I think it is working well so far,” said Persad Bissessar, who is leading the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) into the election.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley had said that invitations had been sent to the Commonwealth the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping to send observers but that they would have had to arrive here in time to be undergo the 14-day quarantine period.
He said that the regional and international observers had indicated that the venture would be too expensive and that his administration had decided against providing assistance for fear of it being regarded as trying to influence the observers in their duties.
Persad Bissessar, the first woman to serve as head of a government here, said that her party’s machinery had been working well and was confident of reversing the 2015 defeat her People’s Partnership administration suffered at the hands of the Rowley led People’s National Movement (PNM).
“I spent the whole morning making it happen and it looks good,’ she told reporters, saying that she had been informed that voting is moving ahead smoothly.
“In fact my feedback is that the voter turnout is very good across the country. However in some stations they are saying very slow. Earlier today the feedback I was getting is that the turnout is very high and some people were turning back because of long lines. I just urge everyone to…cast your vote,” said Persad Bissessar, who has been the parliamentary representative for southern town of Siparia since 1995.
Persad Bissessar also dismissed a statement by Attorney General, Faris Al Rawi that following the general election, the PNM will be challenging in court, the candidacy of a UNC member, contesting the PrincesTown seat.
“Bring it on, we have a lot of court clothes,” she said, adding “that seat is a validly nominated candidate. Go out and cast your vote and we will deal with it after. But I have no problems with it”.
Al Rawi had told reporters that the Prince Town seat “will come to the PNM” adding “there will be an election petition for sure because Princes Town is lost…so that is a seat that will come to the PNM, but I don’t want to cover that necessarily today, that’s for another event”.
The PNM is contending that the incumbent, Barry Padarath used the wrong documents when he was nominated last month.
Padarath used Form 38, used when an agent signs on the candidate’s behalf. The PNM has contended that he was supposed to use Form 37 which is used when the candidate is in the jurisdiction and is signing for himself.