I humbly call on all political leaders and individual candidates to think of the welfare, peace, integrity and impartiality in the August 10 elections.
It is hoped that there will continue to be goodwill and friendship among all the peoples of this multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society. The election must not appear to be free and fair, but it must be free and fair, above reproach with no court appearances, as we have seen in Guyana since its March 2 vote. President David Granger and his cohorts are now the scorn of the world community for rigging the elections. Guyana has a history of rigging elections under the dictator Forbes Burnham. And now, Granger is trying to emulate him.
We in Trinidad and Tobago have had our fair share of rigged elections, and I refer to the notorious Shoup voting machines which then Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams brought in for quicker and faster elections, but that did not happen. On that election date December 4 and on November 6 in 1966, there were total confusion as votes were switched to alternate candidates.
In Trinidad and Tobago, all political parties must ensure that the strictest plan must be put into action for the counting of votes and the declaration of results. We must not extend the voting hours as was done in the La Horquetta/ Talparo constituency in 2015. The then Election and Boundaries Commission headed by Sir Alan Reece extended the voting hours for the 1961 elections on December 4. And then Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Patrick Solomon would say that the extension was to cater for PNM voters, and if that did not take place, PNM would have lost it. Voting time, according to the Elections and Boundaries Commission is 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. That time is standard, and must not be changed for any reason or reasons.
In the course of campaigning, the political leaders must demonstrate humility and respect for each other. Political manifestoes must be carefully studied by each party so that whosoever gets in power, that Manifesto must be used as a guide for the nation’s socio-economic and psychological development. It must not be torn and throw in the dustbin. It must continue to be a living organ, and that was the rational that the populace voted for the winning party. It is time that our leaders get serious about the development and progress of Trinidad and Tobago. We must avoid at election rallies or work-about the bacchanal that is conspicuously seen at Carnival.
Election is a serious business, and we must not bring bacchanal behavior. it is not a Marchel Montano Monday fete. I call on our political leaders that whosoever must respect the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, and not that this land is their own fiefdom.
We have reason, integrity and responsible leaders at all levels of the political spectrum to act before and after the elections to put Trinidad and Tobago first. No political party is above the laws of the land. Let us move forward and show to the world, we are another Guyana, a founding member of CARICOM.
PARAS RAMOUTAR, former Councillor, CAPARO