PM: Caricom observers only for general election

PNM political leader and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
PNM political leader and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

No Commonwealth observers will be coming to TT for the general election, but the Prime Minister said there will be Caricom observers, which may avoid any speculation over interference by the Government.

Speaking during a pre-recorded lime, Friday Night Virtual Lime with Dr Rowley, the PM while waiting for his drink, said the question of foreign observers needed to be re-evaluated.

On July 9, on his Facebook page, Rowley said he wrote to Caricom Secretary General Irwin La Rocque and Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Scotland, QC, inviting them to send election observation missions to observe the electoral process.

This request came the day after UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar wrote to Rowley asking, notwithstanding the covid19 pandemic and TT's borders remaining closed, for him to put mechanisms in place to bring in international observers.

On Friday Rowley said if they were to be quarantined for 14 days and allowed to do their jobs, they needed to be in the country on Friday, but they were not.

He said the Commonwealth replied to his request that it didn’t think they would be able to come because of the cost both of flights and quarantine.

Since the Government is involved in the elections, he said, "If we say we will bring the team and the team does a report and the report is favourable, then you will have people saying the government paid for the team and the government doing this and we not doing that.”

He said an alternative was to have a third party involved, but if they did not arrive by the weekend it would make no sense for them to come in unless they monitored the elections remotely.

Caricom said three Caribbean countries agreed to contribute to a Caricom observer team.

“We’re no banana republic and overly troublesome," Rowley commented. "We conduct ourselves. Unless someone intends to misbehave and we will have to deal with that.”

On the question of a leadership debate, Rowley said he was not averse, and had taken part in such debates, but those participating must be serious about it.

"The Opposition Leader said that the campaign is the debate.

"I will not participate in no Mickey Mouse foolishness. If it is a serious debate, then it’s fine.”

He added that there is a debates commission, but national debates have not found favour with some politicians. This, he said, was because they might want to lie, but that couldn’t happen in debates where fact-checking takes place.

Rowley also addressed the country’s future post-covid19, saying that coming out of the road map team he established to look at charting a way forward after the pandemic, technology needed to be on the front burner.

“We must bite the bullet and digitise TT and use technology at every level. To not do that is to make ourselves obsolete.”

He added that innovation is what will guide the country forward as he repeated his vision to move the country to a higher technological level to speed up productivity. He said many ideas are dying and that needed to be addressed.

The “lime” focused on several areas of TT’s economy, including fashion, food, technology and agriculture. Rowley interacted briefly with several entrepreneurs. The event had over 100,000 views and over 1000 shares.

Rowley explained how when he was growing up calypso music was regarded as being too risqué for children. He played tassa, much to his enjoyment, even poking fun at Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh who surprised supporters by doing the same after filing his nomination papers on July 17. Rowley said he loves music and was kicked out of a steelband, but could not play a single note as when he was young, learning music was considered “sissy thing.”

Addressing the entertainment industry while sipping drinks and eating with the host of the "party," Hans Des Vignes, Jared “Major Penny” Penny and soca star Akeem “Preedy” Chance, Rowley said the recent covid19 cases had pushed back the reopening of the entertainment industry.

“We were rolling back things very carefully and the next area would have been entertainment. We have to wait a little while, but we’re anxious to roll it back. We want to get you back to work.

"But as we want to do that, we’re controlled by the decision-making of the environment, whether the virus would flourish or would be suppressed.”

Rowley told the three men he enjoys a good lime with his golf partners in Trinidad and friends who can cook in Tobago. He likes a good game of all fours, but whether he is a good player remains to be seen.


"PM: Caricom observers only for general election"

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