RADHICA DE SILVA

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With COVID-19 on the rise, Faris Al-Rawi is blaming the UNC saying it was preventing the Government from passing new COVID-19 health regulations needed to protect the citizenry.

Speaking to reporters after declaring victory in the San Fernando West recount on Thursday night, Al-Rawi said he was eager to draft the COVID-19 regulations so that new procedures could be put in place to deal with the rising COVID cases.

Saying the UNC was holding back the process by refusing to concede defeat, Al-Rawi said he was not pleased with the progression of recounts in St Joseph and Toco Sangre Grande seats.

“Whie I have been complimentary about the process we enjoyed in San Fernando West, I can’t say the rest of the country enjoys that process. I’m told in Sangre Grande they barely got through a couple of boxes and in St Joseph, they don’t have a good experience. I make strong criticism about the delay,” Al-Rawi said.

He added, “I am anxious for T&T’s business to move at the pace that it must. I am concerned about the management of COVID so I hope we can allow the Prime Minister to convene the 12 Republic of Parliament.”

Al-Rawi also praised the EBC for its efficiency and thoroughness saying after three days of recount, he was happy that the process was finally over.

His first order of business, he said would be to return to the people of San Fernando and thank them for their support.

“I will spend time with the people of San Fernando to give me the confidence to represent for another five years. We have lots of work that is ongoing. The redevelopment of San Fernando, 11 HDC communities, thousands of squatters delivered out of invisibility. Bettering of their lives and the greening of San Fernando. Whether you are part of the PNM or not, we are one San Fernando,” he said.

He noted that one of his opponents Valmiki Ramsingh, who also contested the seat, is a microbiologist and had pledged to help him.

Speaking to Guardian, Ramsingh said even though he secured a handful of votes, the experience of running for a seat was immense.

” I saw the reality of poverty in the city. I promised Al Rawi that I will support him. It doesn’t matter, now that elections are over I will support him in working in any capacity he wants me to work,” Ramsingh said.

“The EBC’s integrity and process were tested. I am happy to say that the EBC’s Edison Ramdeen and his team were thorough accurate and meticulous and I am satisfied that the process works. I don’t know who had the ballots, transport ad custody of ballots but from what I’ve seen they were very professional. I will write to the EBC. I will make recommendations,” he added.

Another candidate Benison Jagessar also said the verification of the results by the EBC was a meticulous process.

“It was a true representation of the actual votes in the system. I was happy to be involved in it and I could look firsthand and say the people who were involved from the EBC were very professional. Meticulous. People were of the view that something wasn’t right. It eliminated that element of uncertainty,” Jagessar said.

UNCcandidate Sean Sobers also congratulated Al-Rawi and said he (Sobers) remained committed to the people of San Fernando West.

Despite his defeat, Sobers said the experience was an enriching one as he was able to interact with people from all walks of life in the city. He said it was hard to imagine that in 2020 people were still living without basic amenities.

He said while COVID-19 may have hindered his campaign it also helped politicians evolve by forcing them to use alternative means of campaigning which traditionally would not have been utilized.

Sobers said he will continue his private practice as an attorney and was eager to serve in any capacity as mandated by his political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. He said it was important that all people should look out for each other especially in a time of a global pandemic.