Thursday 24 September, 2020

PEP: Postpone the general election

The Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) is advocating for the postponement of the August 10 election for at least three months, or until the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can be contained.

The call comes in the face of cases of apparent local spread of COVID-19.

Trinidad and Tobago, at the last official count, has 148 confirmed cases.

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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Monday night said the country has four additional cases, but no confirmation has come from the Ministry of Health.

In a statement on Monday night, the PEP said there are “enough” reasons in favour of the pushing back of the general election.

The PEP said the conversation needs to be had.

The party said: “Instead of putting people in each other's faces for campaigning and voting, we should in fact be returning to a lockdown position to halt this spread before it becomes a crisis.”

The PEP took note of recent developments – reportedly financial constraints - that have affected the timely arrival of international election observers ahead of the August 10 election.

The party stressed the importance of the presence of these observers.

“Then there's the fact that the very much needed International Observers cannot make it in time, and again we as a nation have to answer if we are comfortable having this election unsupervised, especially when one takes into account the propensity of some in authority to bend if not outright break the rules to their advantage.”

The party called for the election to be postponed for at least three months or until the virus is under control, and International Observers are able to attend.

In listing further reasons to support its call for the postponement of the election, the party noted that the Elections & Boundaries Commission can either hold or refund deposits, stand down the elections for three months and allow for the management of both of these issues.

Postponing the election would allow for the process of repatriation and quarantining of the citizens abroad “who should have been accommodated before any election was called,” the PEP added.

The party said the country would be in a much better position to conduct a free and fair election if it’s delayed.

“It would also give the government time to read its final budget, the most appropriate report card on an outgoing government and the best yardstick from which to gauge their performance,” the party added.

The PEP, stating that it was willing to support “the right thing” to ensure that there is sufficient time to prepare for the election said this course of action must be taken to protect all citizens and “respect the rights of those trapped outside”.

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