PNM Women: Reject candidates with criminal charges against them
The Women’s League of the People’s National Movement (PNM) is urging voters to reject the candidacy of Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Minority Leader, Watson Duke, in light of charges of rape and indecent assault against him.
In a statement, the PNM Women’s League took note of other candidates in the general election race whose names have been embroiled in controversy in the past: Dr Rai Ragbir, Ravi Ratiram and Arnold Ram – all United National Congress (UNC) candidates.
The Women’s League said it while it upholds the tenet of “innocent until proven guilty” it is “insulting” that these individuals would be considered fit for public office.
The group expressed concern over what it deemed as a flippant response by Duke in light of the charges, as it took issue with statements by him that even with these charges against him the people of his Electoral District had elected him and would do so again because he is an ‘attractive’ man.
“We see this as disgusting, disturbing and taking the electorate’s intelligence for granted. The National Women’s League of the People’s National Movement (PNM) demands that the Tobago House of Assembly Minority Leader, Watson Duke be rejected as a candidate for Tobago East due to his criminal charges!”
The Women’s League said such criminal charges should not be taken lightly, adding that the Parliament ought to be filled with individuals with integrity and moral values - not criminals.
“The Women’s League stands resolute in its continuing condemnation of the candidacy of Mr. Duke and those being offered by the UNC. Trinidad and Tobago deserves better than this!”
The League further cautioned Duke to mind his words and keep the name of its political leader out of its mouth in discussions about the criminal charges faced by the Tobago East candidate.
It said the PNM is about the empowerment of women, whilst Duke is making a mockery in the face of the charges against him.
The Women’s League also provided examples of how it has upheld integrity in public office, noting that outgoing Port of Spain South MP Marlene McDonald was not screened whilst former Mayaro/Rio Claro Corporation Chairman Glen Ram was screened by the UNC in spite of bribery charges against him.
It also noted that former PNM Chairman Franklin Khan and Former MP for Port of Spain Eric Williams both resigned as Ministers when criminal charges were pressed against them. Both men went on to clear their names, it said.
The Women’s League added that one should clear one’s name before aspiring for public office.
What qualifies/disqualifies a candidate
The Constitution sections 47 & 48, state:
47. Subject to the provisions of section 48, a person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives if, and shall not be qualified to be so elected unless, he—
(i) is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago of the age of eighteen years or upwards; and
(ii) has resided in Trinidad and Tobago for a period of two years immediately before the date of his nomination for election or is domiciled and resident in Trinidad and Tobago at that date.
48. (1) No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives who—
(i) is a citizen of a country other than Trinidad and Tobago having become such a citizen voluntarily, or is under a declaration of allegiance to such a country;
(ii) is an un-discharged bankrupt having been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in Trinidad and Tobago;
(iii) is mentally ill, within the meaning of the Mental Health Act;
(iv) is under sentence of death imposed on him by a Court or is serving a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever name called) exceeding twelve months imposed on him by a Court or substituted by competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him by a Court, or is under such a sentence of imprisonment the execution of which has been suspended;
(v) is disqualified for membership of the House of Representatives by any law in force in Trinidad and Tobago by reason of his holding, or acting in, any office the functions of which involve—
- any responsibility for, or in connection with, the conduct of any election; or
- any responsibility for the compilation or revision of any electoral register;
(vi) is disqualified for membership of the House of Representatives by virtue of any law in force in Trinidad and Tobago by reason of his having been convicted of any offence relating to elections; or
(vii) is not qualified to be registered as an elector at a Parliamentary election under any law in force in Trinidad and Tobago.