San Fernando West candidate Faris Al-Rawi has confirmed that the People’s National Movement (PNM) plans to file an election petition for the Princes Town constituency.
He gave the confirmation after casting his vote at the San Fernando West Secondary School yesterday, hours before United National Congress (UNC) candidate Barry Padarath reclaimed the seat.
Al-Rawi said as an attorney, he had engaged in several election petitions over the year. He even fought his own election petition for which he said cost is still outstanding.
“The UNC has some $7 million in legal cost to pay the PNM, and the primary target was Faris Al-Rawi. I am very, very well familiar with what I need to do in terms of managing election petitions. There will be an election petition in this election for sure because Princes Town is lost, quite properly, so that is definitely a seat that will come to the PNM. But I do not want you to cover that necessarily today (yesterday). That is for another event.”
Al-Rawi said the PNM had already spoken about the matter. While he did not want to talk more on the topic until the end of the election, he said he is counting an additional seat for the PNM.
He said the voting process went quickly for him yesterday. As the 237th person to cast a ballot at the polling station just before midday, he said he believed this showed a good turnout of voters.
There were complaints by the UNC about the long wait by voters but Al-Rawi summed it up to inexperienced personnel at the Gulf View Community Centre polling station. He said there is always is a high voter turnout in San Fernando West and said he expected that the numbers would be par for previous elections.
Al-Rawi said his campaign team spotted a few irregularities before the election began, such as poll cards issued in the wrong place and political advertisements near polling stations.
“I have to condemn the UNC’s continued advertisements. There are signboards that are running in contravention to the law today. I mean digital and electronic signboards,” he said.
“There is one particular advocate for Gulf View who insisted that she locate herself in the line from 6 am until the police just removed her a short while ago. That is contrary to election rules, and I want to warn the UNC that they have to obey the rules. As simple as wearing your mask or observing election rules under the law. Those are things that cannot be tolerated, and those are a few of the blots that we have noticed today.”
While the election went ahead without Caricom or Commonwealth observers, Al-Rawi said there was heavy police presence and polling agents were inside the voting areas monitoring the process. He also expressed confidence in the Elections and Boundaries Commission and that the country could manage its elections safely.
“I remind you, at the Local Government Elections, we never have complaints. I do not think it is an absolute necessity that there is Caricom or Commonwealth observers. The invitation was made; they said they could not afford it, nor would they manage it in the COVID period. It is not that Prime Minister Rowley did not want it, Prime Minister Rowley offer it, volunteered it, it was not accepted,” he said.