Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 6th 2015 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Monday, July 6, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Political scientist Dr Winford James says the
emergence of new third parties and independent
political candidates will result in vote-splitting dur-
ing September s general election.
He said they were unlikely to win seats in con-
stituencies outside of a coalition.
"If they take away even small numbers, though,
it will result in splitting the vote.
"They may end up doing that and some may split
the votes for the benefit of one of the major parties,"
He said while third parties may not have a major
impact, it was good to "have noise in the system."
"It gives people something to discuss outside of
the two race-based parties running this country."
Since 1991, the two dominant political parties in
T&T have been the People s National Movement
(PNM) and the United National Congress (UNC).
Both parties have been described as race-based as
the electorate have traditionally voted according to
ethnicity with Trinidadians of Indian descent voting
for the UNC while Trinidadians of African decent
vote for the PNM.
According to James, third parties have only been
able to win elections in this country when they are
in coalition arrangements as is currently the case
with the UNC, Congress of the People, Tobago Organ-
isation of People and National Joint Action Com-
mittee, collectively known as the People s Partner-
James said the people "in the middle" who have
not been enticed by either of the dominant parties
may be inclined to listen to what third parties have
He explained: "The lines in this country has been
drawn along racial lines but there are a lot of people
in the middle who are dissatisfied with what the two
parties have to offer."
He said smaller parties which are trying to make
a difference cannot achieve much by themselves.
"They don t have a track record or a history or
properly formulated ideas for people to support.
Just over 100 prisoners were relocated from
the Golden Grove Remand Yard and at the
Maximum Security Prison (MSP) in Arouca
in an exercise that started at about 9 am on
Saturday and lasted for about six hours, end-
ing at 3 pm. It is believed that more prisoners
are expected to be moved today.
A prisons officer, who didn t want to be
identified, expressed concern that the majority
of prisoners relocated were from the North
Wing or The Deep and others from the South
Wing at Remand Yard. Many are reported to
be Muslims and members of the Rasta City
The prison officer said he and other officers
are concerned about the move because some
of the relocated prisoners have rivals at MSP.
Reports are that have been placed at the N-
Division at MSP which can accommodate up
to 300 inmates.
"We are concerned if there should be any
clashes with these prisoners, which will badly
affect us while we are on duty. Our lives are
already threatened and this may even make it
worse on us," the officer said.
A special unit of prison officers, who all
wore masks, conducted the relocation exercise
which was videotaped in its entirety.
"This was done to make sure that everything
went well and there were no untoward inci-
dents---no prisoners were beaten and no officers
attacked," the officer explained.
Contraband items were seized during the
exercise, including several improvised weapons,
cellphones, an undisclosed amount of drugs
and cartons of cigarettes. Searches were carried
out at the Port-of-Spain Prison and at MSP
On June 16 and 17, during two consecutive
raids, several inmates were badly beaten and
about five prisons officers attacked.
Sources told the T&T Guardian the attack
on prisons officers and the relocation stemmed
from the prisoners disapproval of a certain
Muslim leader who was invited into the prison
in early June to give a lecture. Muslims inmates
objected to the lectures claiming the cleric did
not givee true teachings of Islam and had pro-
Commissioner of Prisons Sterling Stewart
did not respond to calls for comment yesterday
and president of the Prison Officers Association
Ceron Richards did not respond to calls to his
These smaller parties are likely people who were
involved with one of the major political parties who
have become disgruntled and unhappy with what
Using the recently-launched Third Force party as
an example, James said the word force was used
"They can take away votes from the PNM or the
UNC but they can t make a serious difference or win
As for independent candidate in Tobago, PSA pres-
ident Watson Duke, James said he was sure the union
leader would get votes. but wasn t convinced Tobago
was ready for independent politics.
Another political scientist, Maukesh Basdeo, said
if third parties make an impact at all, it would be
in "a handful of marginal seats."
He said party stronghold are not likely to be swayed
by independent voices or smaller parties.
Basdeo agreed that it would be difficult for any
third party to win a seat outside of a coalition arrange-
ment. He said splitting the vote, though a potential
outcome, was unlikely.
"What we are seeing is the formation of niche
parties, trying to represent a group of voters who are
not aligned with the major parties," Basdeo said.
"Unless there is significant discontent to upset the
incumbents in constituencies, I don t think there
will be a significant impact."
Third parties will split votes
Prisons officers uneasy
over relocation of inmates
Pupils of the Trinidad Premier Kiddies Kindergarten class of 2015 lay hands
on Prison Commissioner Sterling Stewart as Pastor Reynold Moses of
Prayer Path Ministries, left, and school principal Myrtle Lashley offer
prayers during the kindergarten's graduation ceremony at La Joya
Auditorium, St Joseph. PHOTO: CLYDE LEWIS
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