THE GOOD cheer shown by competing candidates who on Monday participated in the nomination day process was a welcome turn in the mood of the hustings. The candidates, despite their different affiliations, set the proper tone and example and we hope to see more of this as the local government election draws closer.
Even as the PNM and the UNC drew battle lines in the sand as they began the fight to gain control of the San Fernando City Corporation, the candidates nonetheless showed camaraderie when they met at the Elections and Boundaries Commission returning office at Rushworth Street and at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
As they waited their turn to file their nomination papers, opposing candidates, including the lone Movement for Social Justice candidate for Marabella East, Chyan Skeete, chatted, shook hands and willingly posed for media cameras to show that whoever is victorious on December 2 will be the representative of all the people, regardless of political affiliation.
Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein shook hands with the UNC candidates, telling the media he had been friends with one of the families from his schooldays at Naparima College. Even Opposition Senator Wade Mark and National Security Minister Stuart Young had a moment at the returning officer’s office at Port of Spain.
All of this was in stark contrast to the tense scenes last week when a UNC motorcade drove past a PNM political event. Police later confirmed that the UNC had been granted permission to hold a motorcade in the Siparia constituency at the same time as the PNM’s event at the Thick Village Community Centre. Such simultaneous meetings are not ideal, and the police should review how it grants approvals.
While authorities probably hoped good sense would prevail, the motorcade played loud music and there was rowdiness. In the end, however, officers quelled the situation and thankfully there were no serious incidents.
As usual, both parties claimed the moral high-ground in relation to this incident at which the leaders of the respective parties were in attendance. It is hoped that in future such provocations, however they come to pass, are avoided and that party leaders uphold their duty to exercise responsibility. If leaders will not so conduct themselves, they should be held accountable by their parties and by campaign managers.
Let us not allow pettiness to turn the election season into a silly one. Monday’s nomination day process was a return to the standard we expect. By most accounts, hundreds took part in the process which went smoothly. Some parties reported delays, others requested more detailed checklists in the future. However, the consensus was that the process was above board. Therefore, we congratulate all concerned on a successful start to the election process.