Incumbent UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has described Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s interaction with a journalist on Thursday in Couva as “deeply troubling” as the reporter is the wife of the photographer who was allegedly assaulted by the owner of A&V Oil and Gas limited.
At a media conference last week, Rowley said a reporter had not exercised good behaviour by pushing a microphone in his face and asking him to comment on the disturbances at Beetham Gardens while he was at the Point Lisas business park launch in Couva.
The reporter, Radhica Sookraj-De Silva has since disputed his claims in an article, published on Friday, in which Rowley reportedly told her he was in Couva and wanted to talk about what was happening in Couva and not at Beetham Gardens.
However, shortly after casting her vote in the party’s internal election at the Parvati Girls Hindu College, Debe yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said Rowley’s response to Sookraj-De Silva was as a direct result to her being the wife of Kristian De Silva, who accused A&V Oil and Gas CEO Hanif Baksh of assaulting him. Baksh was charged and the matter is before a magistrate.
“Its mind boggling that you now have a Prime Minister engaging in a tit for tat with a respected reporter like Radhica, a responsible journalist, and therefore I am very concerned that the Prime Minister may be taking out his stresses on this reporter because she happens to be the wife of the person involved in the oil issue,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She also wondered why Baksh’s daughter, Allyson Baksh, was still a government senator despite both her husband and father being charged with assaulting De Silva.
“I think our nation has collapsed under this Prime Minister Rowley and therefore what we are doing here, this exercise, getting our party on track, getting ourselves organised, we are coming for them. We have to take them out politically because everyone in this country is suffering. So you all keep strong don’t get brutalised.”
And regarding the internal election, she said voting had started off slowly but had remained steady throughout the day and expected that those numbers would increase as the day wore on.
Meanwhile, former Trade Minister, Vasant Bharath, who dropped out of the political leadership race told Newsday, in a telephone interview, he had decided against voting in the election because the process had been “rigged” to favour the incumbent candidate.
Meanwhile, there were reports of long lines at the Chaguanas West polling station and at the Chaguanas North secondary school.
Long lines were also reported at the El Dorado North Hindu School, Tunapuna and at the Upper Carapichaima Presbyterian School, Freeport Mission Road, Freeport.