Caricom Secretary-General Irwin La Rocque.

The Opposition has welcomed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s move to invite both Caricom and the Commonwealth to send election observers to Trinidad and Tobago for the August 10 General Election.

The Office of the Prime Minister yesterday issued a statement confirming that Rowley has invited representatives of both the regional and international groupings to send election observers.

This came after Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar issued her own statement on Wednesday calling on Rowley to have international observers from the United Nations, Caricom, the Commonwealth or the Carter Centre for the election.

Persad-Bissessar had said international observers are an important mechanism for ensuring election integrity and she noted the role such observers from the international and regional community had played in the recent Guyana election. She noted Rowley was among Caricom observers at the Guyana election. The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP) party won in Guyana after protracted issues involving a recount by the Guyana Elections and Boundaries Commission but the matter is still tied up in the courts as both the PPP and the Partnership for National Unity (APNU) contest issues surrounding the process.

Persad-Bissessar also said that with the COVID-19 public health regulations, the Opposition was very concerned that measures are not in place to ensure citizens are able to exercise their franchise.

Stating that observers had attended T&T elections since 2007, she called for exemptions for international observers to be granted as early as possible, so that their quarantine period can be completed ahead of the election. She warned against any delay in inviting them.

Yesterday, the OPM’s statement confirmed Rowley yesterday wrote to Caricom Secretary General Irwin La Rocque and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, QC.

The OPM stated, “The letter formally invites both parties to send election observation missions under its auspices to observe Trinidad and Tobago’s processes and operations in the upcoming parliamentary elections which will be held on August 10, 2020.”

UNC deputy leader David Lee yesterday welcomed the move by Rowley.

“It is good news that the Prime Minister has heeded the Opposition leader’s call to have independent observers from Caricom and the Commonwealth to view the August 10 elections. This augers well for our elections and hopefully it would add a layer of democracy to the whole process on election day,” Lee said.