UNC meets with EBC over concerns; reiterates call for international observers

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UNC meets with EBC over concerns; reiterates call for international observers

A six-member United National Congress team recently met with EBC Commissioners and the Chief Elections Officer as it continues preparations for the impending General Election.

The UNC team consisted of General Secretary Peter Kanhai, Deputy Chairman Khadijah Ameen, C.O.O. Dr. Tim Gopeesingh, National Campaign Manager Feeroz Khan, Mr. Vijay Gosine, and attorney at law Darrell Allahar.

The meeting follows the raising of a number of issues surrounding irregularities, transparency in the local government and the general elections, and the conduct of the EBC in general by the UNC Political Leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar.

Among the issues raised were:
1. The EBC Boundaries Report
2. Irregularities in special voting and securing of ballot boxes
3. The EBC’s house to house voter regularisation exercise
4. The registration of CARICOM nationals, Commonwealth nationals and non-Commonwealth nationals who are resident in Trinidad and Tobago
5. The upcoming bye-elections
6. The recruitment and training of EBC’s election personnel and mechanisms for dealing with concerns of impartiality in the way these officers perform their functions

At the meeting, the EBC committed to the following:
1. To provide Supplemental Information on how specific polling divisions (PDs) were split to form new polling divisions (PDs)
2. To provide detailed information pertaining to new & adjusted polling divisions (PDs) – breakdown of total electors & street allocations
3. To provide the EBC’s historic recommendations pertaining to special voters
4. To provide a status report pertaining to the EBC’s field verification exercises – Constituencies already started & status pertaining to completion
5. To provide a timeline for completion of the EBC’s field verification exercises – Constituencies already started & constituencies to be started
6. To provide electoral list adjustments post-LGE 2023 – Additions, Deletions & Transfers
7. To resume Monthly / Quarterly submission of electoral list adjustments – Additions, Deletions & Transfers
8. To establish mechanism to report all queries – Election Day & Otherwise
9. To confirm the date pertaining to the use of Princes Town EBC Office
10. To provide information pertaining to the recording & identification of non nationals with residency status that are allowed to vote in local government elections only – how are they recorded on the electors list?

The UNC said it will continue to engage with the EBC on these matters as a stakeholder in democracy.

In a release, it said: “We are committed to ensuring that there is transparency and fairness in the electoral process, since it is in the public interest that there be trust and confidence in how elections are conducted. That such a discussion could occur, and be the subject of interest by the media, is a positive feature of our democracy, which we must always be vigilant to protect.
We note that Trinidad and Tobago has had international observers at every election since the year 2000, until Keith Rowley unilaterally broke this practice in 2020, against the wishes of the Parliamentary Opposition and other parties.”

“The issue of international election observers was raised by the UNC at our meeting with the EBC. The EBC indicated that it had no objections to the presence of international observers, and that invitations to those observers would usually come from the level of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.”

“We therefore ask, what is Keith Rowley’s objection to the long-standing practice of inviting international observers, to ensure transparency and fairness in our elections?”

“The UNC takes this opportunity to call on Prime Minister Keith Rowley, as Head of Government, to correct his mistake and invite international observers for our next General Elections, whenever they are called. We also demand that he publicly commits to invite international election observers immediately. The ball is in the Prime Minister’s court.”