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Cost and lack of available volunteers prevented election observers from coming to Trinidad and Tobago for last week’s 2020 General Election, Prime Minister-elect Dr Keith Rowley said during a press conference at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

The Opposition has continually raised questions about the lack of independent observers in the election, particularly during the recently-concluded recounts in five marginal constituencies.

But Rowley yesterday said he had to address the issue given the “misrepresentation of the opposition leader” on the matter.

“It is being said that I, as Prime Minister, one, did not invite observers and two, I took steps to prevent the observers from coming here. I have seen it written in columns by columnists who have no regard for facts abusing their position in the media, writing that the government prevented observers from coming or the government did not take steps to have observers. I just want to dismiss that, today and would not engage that any further for the folly that it is and what I have done,” Rowley said.

According to Rowley, he did everything possible to get election observers here but direct and indirect challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic proved too difficult to overcome.

He repeated his position that both Caricom and the Commonwealth could not have sent election observers due to logistical difficulties on their end.

The Commonwealth was unable to cover the costs associated with the mandatory 14-day COVID quarantine for its observers, while Caricom was only able to raise three observers from three countries when they needed 12-15 people.

“I take umbrage in the misrepresentation the Opposition leader, who has deliberately tried to do the usual—which is to create a story…I just want to remind some people that facts are valuable and they could only get so far with persistent lying,” he said, refuting the UNC’s claims.