Tue | Sep 29, 2020

Opposition parties in Trinidad file election recount requests

Published:Tuesday | August 11, 2020 | 12:00 AM
The elections commission has indicated that it may take a few days to complete general recounts.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC): Six defeated candidates in Monday’s general elections have filed requests for a recount of the votes cast, further delaying the official announcement of the elections by the Elections and Boundaries Commission.

On Monday night, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said that his ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) had been returned to office, winning 22 of the 41 seats in the Parliament.

“It has not been an easy task. It has not been an easy way, but the PNM has stayed the course and once again, we have been called to provide the people of Trinidad and Tobago with the good governance it expects from the People’s National Movement.

“So far as the results are in … but it appears that we went in with 23 seats and we would come out with 22, a majority is 21; thank you, thank you for that support,” he said.

But while the commission has not made any official or preliminary statement on the election results, the leader of the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) Kamla Persad- Bissessar has refused to concede the election.

“I have no intention to give any concessionary speech,” she said Monday night, adding that the recount would be requested “because the numbers are so close. Only then will we claim victory or concede. That’s the way forward for us.”

The commission’s communications manager, Bobbi Rogers, confirmed that the UNC had requested “general recounts” in St Joseph, Tunapuna, Toco/Sangre Grande, La Horquetta/Talparo and San Fernando West.

This is the second consecutive general election where Attorney General Faris Al Rawi, who won the San Fernando seat, has found that his victory is being challenged by the UNC.

The leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots, Watson Duke, has requested a recount of the Tobago East seat he lost to the PNM’s Ayanna Webster-Roy.

The recount is due to begin 3 p.m., but commission officials say given that it is a “general recount”, the exercise could take a few days to be completed.

However, PNM campaign manager Rohan Sinanan said he is not fazed by the recount requests and views them as delaying tactics.

“I would not take that recount so serious … because, I mean, I don’t know of any recount that has been successful, maybe with a margin of perhaps 100. Some of these recounts they are calling for, we probably won the seats in excess of 3,000 votes.

“I know what will happen in the recount, so I wouldn't waste too much time on it. All the seats were won handsomely and I don’t want to get involved in the internal politics of other parties, but what I think it is, it is to delay the inevitable,” he said.

Sinanan also repeated earlier statements made by the PNM that it would be challenging the seat won by the UNC’s Barry Padarath, whose Princes Town candidacy had been challenged on the grounds that he had signed the wrong documents on nomination day.

He said that the party has filed a legal challenge and was confident of being declared the winner of that seat.

But Persad-Bissessar has brushed aside the PNM’s position, saying, “Bring it on, we have a lot of court clothes.

“That seat had a validly nominated candidate,” she said Monday, adding, “We will deal with it after. But I have no problems with it.”

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