Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will not entertain Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s request for international observers to oversee the upcoming local government elections.
During the United National Congress’ Monday Night Report, Persad-Bissessar made the call for foreign oversight while underscoring that her party does not trust the People’s National Movement with the process. She added that she had delivered a letter to the PM on this.
However, while answering questions from the audience during Breakfast with tDr Keith Rowley at the Hilton Trinidad, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Dr Rowley responded to her request with a resounding no.
“We are going into a local government election, we’ve had that over and over and over, and there’s one due in a few weeks. Some of our colleagues are telling me I must invite foreigners to come and observe our local government election, no!” the Prime Minister said to laughter from the crowd, which was made up of party stalwarts and members of the business community.
The Prime Minister questioned why Persad-Bissessar believes such an intervention is necessary.
“They free to come if they wish, it’s a free country but why are we selling ourselves short?”
Dr Rowley said this country has a reputation of being “superstars” with elections and that is why locals go to other countries to observe their electoral processes.
“And you know why I am saying no to those troublemakers? It is because our record in the PNM is without blemish. When we lost an election for the first time after three decades, what did the PNM do? We walked away quietly to Balisier House and functioned in such a way in Opposition that the public re-elected us five years later.”
He referenced the 1990 attempted coup d’état to show that the PNM has always respected the democratic process.
“When they took up arms against us in this country and burn down the Parliament and kill people and ordered who should be Prime Minister, what was the PNM’s position? I was in Washington, Patrick Manning was here in Trinidad, and he said we will have no part of any government that comes to office in that way, that is our record!”
The Prime Minister said he found it hypocritical that the UNC wants independent foreign observers to monitor an election he claims they are trying to undermine themselves.
“We are not as a PNM going to take that as par for the course in Trinidad and Tobago, we are going to call it out and stand by our record.”