AUGUST 10 is election day, the Prime Minister told the House of Representatives on Friday.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar later told reporters the UNC was ready and will present its candidates on Sunday.
Dr Rowley began by saying Parliament would be prorogued at Friday midnight, and hailed Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George for her service.
“It was a pleasure serving under your hand and I look forward to associating to you in some way, this way or another way, in the future, your tenure having been so distinguished.”
Rowley then gave the election date.
“On this day, July 3, 2020, I am to advise all my colleagues in this House that I have advised Her Excellency the President to dissolve this Parliament at midnight tonight.
“That being so Madam Speaker, as per our Constitution and the arrangements of our acts, nomination day Madam Speaker would be Friday, July 17, and polling day would be August 10, 2020.”
His colleagues banged their desks in support.
“I wish all my colleagues a safe, happy, enjoyable and productive campaign. I look forward to seeing all of them somewhere in Trinidad before the next parliament. Thank you, Madam Speaker.” MPs then voted for the House to adjourn “sine die”, that is, without a named day to sit.
Earlier, Persad-Bissessar had loudly complained about three matters on the adjournment now fell off the order paper, leading Rowley to later quip, “I am amazed at the ability of my colleague from Siparia to cause disruption.”
The PM later told reporters outside the Red House he hoped citizens will take the elections seriously.
Asked if the covid10 border lock-down will be lifted, he said as many overseas nationals as possible had been let in to TT and the opening of borders was not a condition for the election.
“Borders are influenced by our heath conditions.”
Persad-Bissessar told reporters she was “very excited and very happy” a date has been named and an election-ready UNC will present all its candidates on Sunday.
She said the election will let TT exhale from five years of PNM rule which she described as brutality, neglect and suffering, reaching a peak this past year.
“Our troops have been on the ground for quite a while now. In fact last night we had a meeting.
“I plan to name all my candidates this weekend, on Sunday. I still have a few meetings to do tomorrow (Saturday) with respect to those who will be fighting and those who will not be fighting seats. “So I’m very happy and we look forward to elections.”
Persad-Bissessar said the five-week campaign period is longer than in 2010, with an August date set to facilitate the budget debate due in September.
She was asked how covid19 limits on meetings will affect the hustings.
“We have already started campaigning using the virtual forum. We may have to continue doing that.
“But I suspect at some point during the month of July, there will be more opening up to come. I think even the borders may be open up sometime in July.”
She hoped the Elections and Boundaries Commission will soon give guidelines for campaigning and election day, and whether covid19 restrictions will be lifted.
“I think this election will be won one-to-one on the ground, which is what we’ve been doing in the marginals. Our marginal candidates have been there quite a while now.
Persad-Bissessar said the local government elections had not been won on the airwaves. “What wins is that human touch, on the ground, meeting and speaking with electors.”
Despite the PNM completing its slate on Thursday by choosing Keith Scotland for Port of Spain South, she said the UNC was not lagging as its slate will be presented on Sunday.
“One day? One day before mine? One day doesn’t make a difference.”
Persad-Bissessar said the stranding of nationals outside TT was a reason to vote against the Government. “There are many thousands of people out there who will be disenfranchised if they aren’t allowed to enter TT.” She hoped the borders would be opened in July.
Persad-Bissessar urged the Government to invite election observers, especially in light of the unsettled election in Guyana.
She said the dissolving of Parliament now means no chance to bring a new law to allow proxy voting, foreign voting or overseas voting. This made it more vital for the Government to re-open the borders ahead of the polls, she said. Persad-Bissessar hit the Government for breaking their promises for reforms in campaign finance, local government and Tobago affairs.