NOMINATION DAY for the August 10 general election is July 17 but One Tobago Voice said it will not rush to name its candidates for the Tobago East and West seats.
So says, political leader of The Platform of Truth (TPT) Hochoy Charles, a member of the One Tobago Voice coalition party. Charles is one of three Tobago politicians who officially established One Tobago Voice in September 2019. The others are Tobago Forwards political leader Christlyn Moore and Tobago Organisation of the People leader Ashworth Jack.
Speaking with Newsday on Tuesday, Charles said the party has already identified its candidates and will fight the general election.
He said, “It isn’t about candidates, it’s about Tobago winning the election. We are going to make sure that we mention that at the right time, nomination date is on the 17th.
“The time would come when we would talk candidates because you cannot vote for Tobago, that is not on a ballot paper. The names would be there, but these names are the only names that would be able to speak for Tobago and those names would be announced very soon… whoever they are.”
He said One Tobago Voice is the only Tobago-based party with Tobago's interest at heart.
“One Tobago Voice is the only party that is operating in Tobago at this time that can speak for Tobago. The PNM is not Tobago, they cannot speak for Tobago, we’ve seen that for the last five years. Shamfa (Cudjoe) and (Ayanna) Webster-Roy, they have been our representatives and we have matters down there, even the Tobago matter (the lapsed Tobago Self Government Bill) before the Parliament for so long and nobody can say a word."
Charles sad PDP, similar to PNM, was not a Tobago party but a manifestation of the UNC.
“(PDP leader Watson) Duke is not Tobago, he is an agent of the UNC in Trinidad so if you vote for them, there is no Tobago voice there. There is either an opposition voice in Parliament or a government voice in Parliament, and they cannot speak for Tobago, that is why we not talking candidates yet.”
The former chief secretary said One Tobago Voice will be on the ground trying to convince the electorate.
“This is why we’re not about candidates, we are doing what we have to do now: to make sure that the people of Tobago understand that what the election is about is to select candidates that can represent Tobago and that can speak for Tobago. PNM cannot speak for Tobago and nobody else can. One Tobago Voice would be contesting the election in Tobago, so that Tobago will have a voice and Tobago will speak and do things for Tobago."
Charles said Tobagonians had no voice in Parliament for the last five years and have suffered as a result.
“Tobago will have to play as a Tobago team or Tobago will continue to lose by default, as it has been over the last 20 something years,” he said.
Charles also called for an end to keeping election dates a secret.
“It is foolishness… It is time that the country changes this foolishness about a Prime Minister holding an election date in his pocket and springing it on the population at any time. It is time the country gets rid of that foolishness.”
He added: “Election is about the people selecting their managers to manage the business of the country for the next five years. It is about the country selecting the managers and then people must have a chance to look at the managers and so on, you don’t just spring an election on people like that and especially in the context of covid19, where we’re still locked down.”