THE UNITED National Congress (UNC) contingent walked out during the recount for the Tunapuna constituency on Wednesday evening.
Defeated UNC candidate David Nakhid spoke about the recount at about 3 pm outside the Upper El Dorado Community Centre, where the recount was being doneby Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) officials.
Nakhid said, on Tuesday, votes were recounted in Tunapuna but UNC representatives were not present.
"That is just ridiculous in any state, in any country."
He explained the returning officer was told the UNC was not able to go until 11 pm because 6 pm was a reasonable cut-off time and one of their election agents, an older woman, was not feeling well and their lawyer could not stay. He said an agreement was made to have the recount from 9 am-5 pm.
"We are going as quickly as we can. You can't go for speed. This is not a Nascar race."
He claimed the People's National Movement (PNM) asked for the time to be extended to 9 pm but the UNC disagreed.
"This is a democracy. There has to be consensus. Until now the EBC only seems to agree to what has been proposed by the PNM legal (team)."
When contacted at 5.45 pm Nakhid said the recount was still going on, but the UNC contingent left at 5 pm.
"If they continue the process, it is non-transparent."
Asked about PNM claims the UNC was tryingto frustrate the process, Nakhid dismissed this as "absolute rubbish" and said it was incumbent on the UNC to ensure the process was transparent.
When contacted, EBC corporate communications manager Bobbi Rogers cited the Representation of the People Act, which says the returning officer "shall not be required to give any other notice of the date, time and place of the final count" than August 11, 2020 starting at 3 pm.
Rogers said the returning officer, Edmund Alexander, had indicated the UNC delegation had obstructed the recount. She said he reported they were advised of the time to start on Wednesday and arrived several hours late. Alexander also reported the delegation said it wanted to conclude (at 5 pm) while the returning officer was prepared to continue the recount until the conclusion.
"They walked out while he tried his best to bring them back."
She reported the recount continued in Tunapuna and the other four challenged constituencies: St Joseph, La Horquetta/Talparo, Toco/Sangre Grande and San Fernando West.
EBC preliminary results showed PNM Esmond Forde received 9,640 votes compared to Nakhid's 7,534.
Asked by the media how confident he was about overturning more than 2,000 votes, Nakhid said before that stage it was about a transparent process.
"Something is not right."
UNC PRO Anita Haynes told the media it was not a question of the numbers but the process.
"And if we cannot have faith in our process we are going down a very, very dangerous road as a democracy."
She said Dr Rowley, Colm Imbert and others from the PNM were trying to "pour scorn" on a process put in place to ensure the legitimacy of an elected government.
"And they should respect that."
She stressed the system of recounts was necessary, especially with discarded poll cards being found (in Arima) and people witnessing issues as well.
"Are we supposed to disregard all these things and simply move on? That could never be right. So yes the process may be long but it is necessary."
She said Rowley declaring himself a winner before the count ended and before the EBC made an announcement was "madness."
"If that does not bring grave concern to the people of TT, I don't know what will."
She said a number of things occurred in key marginal seats and a number of things requested before the election, namely election observers and ensuring special electors' votes are kept separated.
"I am hearing Dr Rowley talking about being obstructionist and whatnot. This is about getting the system right. If we do not do the hard work necessary to get the system right we will go nowhere fast as a country."