As the United National Congress continues to challenge the 2020 General Election results, the People’s National Movement is again accusing their political rivals of deliberately attempting to slow down the process.
At a press briefing in Port-of-Spain yesterday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert claimed the Opposition was merely making claims of voting irregularities to convince its supporters that it didn’t lose the election.
He described their challenge as very dishonest and deceitful.
“We’ve never had anything like this in Trinidad and Tobago before. Never,” a bemused Imbert said during a press conference at Balisier House called to address the UNC’s decision to contest the results in five marginal constituencies.
The UNC has ordered recounts in La Horquetta/Talparo, St Joseph, San Fernando West, Toco/Sangre Grande and Tunapuna.
He added, “I’ve had cause to write a letter to the chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission about the count, about the attempts of disruption of the recounts by the UNC.”
According to Imbert, who successfully retained the Diego Martin North East seat, he urged the EBC’s chairman to protect the commission’s returning officers and the integrity of the counting process.
Despite the UNC’s numerous claims of irregularities, Imbert said it was is impossible to rig an election in Trinidad and Tobago.
“The losing candidates are attempting to disrupt the process in every possible way,” Imbert said.
Listing some of the UNC challenges, he said one candidate had questioned the signatures of presiding officers on the ballot papers, while another claimed he couldn’t see the initials on the ballot. A third, he said, purported that a group of police officers stole ballot boxes from a polling station and kept it at a police station. Seeking to have the claim clarified, he said he asked Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to investigate.
Reading from an official report, he said, “A thorough and comprehensive search of the station and its surroundings, which he did in the company of other officers, no ballot boxes were found or secured on the station compound.
“The returning officer indicated that all ballot boxes for that location were present and on-site.”
Imbert said the situation had gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.
In the St Joseph seat, he said losing UNC candidate Ahloy Hunt was challenging every ballot, resulting in a particularly slow recount process. Because of the delay, he claimed not a single ballot box recount was completed on the first day.
“If they go like that, it will take two months. What is wrong with these people? Are they trying to give Trinidad and Tobago a bad name?” Imbert contested.
Despite his concerns, Imbert expressed confidence in the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s ability to carry out the recounting process in an expeditious manner. He estimated that by the end of this weekend, or by early next week, the process could be completed.
Imbert also denied suggestions that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had inside information about the election’s results on Monday.
Following Rowley’s declaration that the PNM had won the election 22-19 on Monday night, the UN had questioned the timing of the victory speech, saying it seemed Rowley had inside information.
Laughing off the suggestions, however, Imbert said like the UNC, the PNM was getting results from individuals stationed at polling stations to witness and collect statements of the polls. For the process to be rigged, he maintained everyone, including opposition and EBC representatives, would have to be part of the conspiracy.