THE COMMONWEALTH Secretariat is mum on sending an election observer mission to TT but assures it stands ready to assist all members in upholding the values of free and fair elections “wherever possible and practicable.”
It declined to comment on statements by the Prime Minister on the secretariat’s inability to send an observer mission for the August 10 general election because of the costs involved with covid19 quarantine and border closure restrictions.
In response to questions from Newsday, a Commonwealth spokesman said: “We don’t give a running commentary on these types of issues and communications between member states and the Secretariat are obviously confidential.
“However, it is important to note that the global covid19 crisis, and its health, social and economic impacts, have created unprecedented pressures upon governments and societies and extensive restrictions on the normal travel of people and groups between countries.
“The Commonwealth places an extremely high value on our work to support democracy in all our member states and expects all of our members to abide by our values in support of free and fair elections.
“We always stand ready to assist all our members in upholding these values and to support elections through observation missions wherever possible and practicable.”
On Monday, Dr Rowley said there was no need for an election observer mission.
He said TT has been able to hold clean and fair elections in the past and he is certain this would continue in this year's polls.
A media release on Sunday said the government was trying to ensure there is an observer mission present, but cost challenges for international contingents remain an issue.
However, he said the country is capable of holding elections without them.
“Even if we do not get observers here, we do not conduct our democracy based on observers. TT has a long and distinguished record in conducting elections. So if there are people who believe that that is a requirement for elections, then they are on their own with that,” Rowley said.
Rowley noted that a request was made but there was nothing more the government can do to have either Caricom or Commonwealth observers present.
On July 9, an invitation was sent to both entities after UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar wrote to Rowley calling for international observers.
Rowley said, “Both Caricom and Commonwealth were having difficulty in getting people to agree to the conditions and making the physical movements, and in case of the Commonwealth they do not have the required financial resources.
“I am pretty certain that the Commonwealth would not be sending anybody, based on what they have said to us, and Caricom was still trying to get a contingent.”
Should there be election observers in TT as at the initial date of request, they would have had to be in the country by July 24, in order to undergo the mandatory 14-day covid19 quarantine.