United National Congress (UNC) leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has condemned what she calls the “reckless comments” Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has made in relation to her party’s call for recounts in five constituencies.
“PM Rowley is intent on continuing his dangerous trend of seeking to undermine our country’s democratic ideals and cherished independent legal institutions, which exist to provide equality, fairness and justice for citizens. I am therefore serving notice on him that his dictatorial habit of attempting to bully and intimidate citizens will not be tolerated by the UNC in any form,” Persad-Bissessar said in a release yesterday.
Persad-Bissessar said no leader of a democracy should engage in this “persistent, devious attempt to undermine our constitutional provisions in any matter, and especially one as serious and significant as a General Election.”
“We will continue to utilise any and every constitutional means available to us to defend and protect our country’s cherished democratic freedoms and the sacred rights of our citizens,” she said.
The UNC has called for recounts in La Horquetta/Talparo, St Joseph, San Fernando West, Toco/Sangre Grande and Tunapuna.
In an interview on Wednesday, Rowley said the UNC was pushing a dangerous narrative by seeking the recounts because it was leading their supporters to believe that the People’s National Movement (PNM) was an illegitimate government and that the 2020 General Election was stolen.
Yesterday, losing UNC candidate for St Joseph Alhoy Hunt said his lawyers found as many as 171 discrepancies in a single polling station.
Police are also currently investigating dumped polling cards found in the bushes off Pinto Road, Arima.
Recounts for the San Fernando West seat, where PNM incumbent Faris Al-Rawi triumphed over the UNC’s Sean Sobers is also in its third day.
Persad-Bissessar said she was also “concerned” about the negative social media comments from members of the public after Monday’s General Election.
“It is with tremendous concern that I have noted the many negative social media comments emanating from all segments of the society in the aftermath of Monday’s controversial General Elections,” she said.
She said though people were “hurt and disappointed” over the results, the call for fairness in an election is valid.
“Across the country, many citizens have expressed serious concerns over the fairness and transparency of the voting and overall election processes. These very valid concerns must not be taken lightly, especially since Prime Minister Rowley had blatantly refused to follow the long-established tradition of inviting foreign observers for the polls,” Persad-Bissessar said.
“The UNC is, therefore, fulfilling its constitutional duty and mandate to ensure that, as far as possible, we ensure that the democratic rights of citizens to free and fair elections were upheld.”
She also called on all citizens to work past this “painful time in the nation’s history.”
“I know you are disappointed, hurt and angered, even, at the blatant discrepancies in Monday’s electoral process but we must not let this get the better of us,” she said.
“We must not foster any type of hate, divisiveness and otherwise unproductive discourse on social media or elsewhere. Do not let our beloved nation’s longstanding tradition of harmony, tolerance and unity be jeopardized at this time.”
Guardian Media reached out the Rowley for a response to Persad-Bissessar’s statement but was unsuccessful yesterday.