Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 10th 2015 Contents GEISHA KOWLESSAR
While former Opposition leader Dr Keith
Rowley was sworn in as Prime Minister
during a ceremony at Queen s Hall, Port-
of-Spain, yesterday, former prime minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar was challenging
the result of Monday s general election and
asking that it be declared null and void.
She also chastised the Elections and
Boundaries Commission (EBC) for what she
claimed was a sudden change in the regu-
lations, resulting in the entire process being
sabotaged. In a letter issued yesterday, Per-
sad-Bissessar described the People's National
Movement's 23-18 victory as unfair. Persad-
Bissessar blamed the extended hour granted
to citizens as playing a key role in what she
maintained was a biased result.
"A decision has been taken to challenge
the results of the general election based on
legal advice the People's Partnership has
received. The challenge is based on the sud-
den decision of the EBC to extend the time
for voting from 6 pm to 7 pm throughout
the country without any official notification
to the People's Partnership and its constituent
parties," Persad-Bissessar said.
She said the rules which govern a general
election were quite clear, adding that strict
adherence to such rules was absolutely nec-
essary to minimise and avoid irregularities.
Failure to do so, Persad-Bissessar added,
would result in allegations and perceptions
of unfairness and favouritism.
In questioning the late swing of the votes
in favour of the PNM during the count, Per-
sad-Bissessar said: "Information and data
received by the party strongly suggested that
the People's Partnership was comfortably
ahead in the polls at 6 pm.
"The march to victory was adversely affect-
ed by the sudden unilateral decision by the
EBC to extend hours of the poll from 6 pm
to 7 pm."
In chastising the EBC, Persad-Bissessar
said the organisation "cannot and should
not" change the rules of engagement without
giving proper notice to candidates, political
parties and voters.
"We have received reports that citizens
were unable to cast their vote at certain
polling stations because the officials of the
EBC were themselves unaware or uncertain
about the decision to extend the time of vot-
ing until 7 pm.
"Additionally, many citizens were unaware
of this extension of time and hence did not
cast their vote," Persad-Bissessar alleged.
In citing Rule 27 (1) of the election rules,
she said the "taking of the poll at each polling
station shall be between 6 in the morning
and 6 in the afternoon of the same day."
Any suspension or adjournment must be
based on fair and adequate prior public notice
to ensure there was a level playing field, she
Thus, the poll could have been adjourned
to the following day to facilitate those who
were unable to cast their vote for good reason.
This has in fact happened in the past, Per-
sad-Bissessar pointed out.
Persad-Bissessar said the PP had also been
advised that the decision by the EBC to give
an extra hour undermined the legal framework
which governed the conduct of the general
election and was tantamount of the shifting
of the political goal post at the end of the
"This might have very well affected the
integrity of the process and the results in
"This is a serious and important violation
of the spirit and intention of the Constitution,
the Representation of the People's Act and
the election rules. We will therefore file these
election petitions to ensure that the rule of
law is upheld and justice is done," Persad-
Monday was the second time the EBC
extended voting hours. The other occasion
was during the December 4, 1961 election
due to problems with voting machines. Cab-
inet met in emergency session then to approve
the extension of hours.
RAMESH: VEXATIOUS CLAIM
Thursday, September 10, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
New National Security Minister
Edmund Dillon is reviewing the
national security architecture,
looking at the "people, systems
and procedures" within this to
ensure they are relevant to the
threat-levels existing in T&T.
"That is to say, do we have the
right people, systems and processes
to deal with the threat. That's the
first order of business," he told
reporters at Queen's Hall, St Ann's,
shortly after being sworn in to office
yesterday. He said he could not give
a time on completion of the review
since he would have to see what
existed, adding that will determine
the time line of action. He said the
review would determine where "we
are and where we want to go."
Dillon said there would be no
question of firing, since "this Gov-
ernment is not about firing people,"
but was about putting the best to
get the best results.
On the possible revival of the
former Special Anti Crime Unit of
the past PNM administration, he
said that was something that may
be looked at and how it was recre-
ated within the present environ-
"So there may be changes within
the present security framework, so
I'm not ruling out SAUTT," he said.
Dillon hit the ground running,
meeting shortly after being sworn
in yesterday with heads of security
agencies, including the acting Police
Commissioner and Chief of Defence
Staff. He said security of tenure of
the CoP would be dealt with as
soon as possible to ensure the Police
Service remained steady.
On the OPVs which the past PP
administration had cancelled, he
said that would always be on his
mind as a former Chief of Defence
Staff. He said T&T still needed to
deal with maritime security since
borders were porous. He said certain
types of vessels were necessary and
the review would determine if T&T
needed OPVs. (GA)
Two days after her fifth consecutive defeat at the
polls, a group calling itself the UNC Patriots has
called on former prime minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar to step aside and allow someone else to
take the reign of power of the party.
The call came even as the United National Congress
(UNC) national executive moved a motion at Rienzi
Complex last evening to retain Persad-Bissessar as
leader. The anonymous group said Persad-Bissessar's
time as leader had come and gone and cited her many
political defeats since she assumed the office of UNC
leader in January 2010.
The statement, dated September 9 and signed by
"UNC Patriots", said while Persad-Bissessar brought
victory to the United National Congress since her
ascension to the office of political leader on January
24, 2010, it has become abundantly clear that she no
longer has the capacity to move them forward as a
"We of the UNC Patriots believe she should step
aside and allow another Member of Parliament to
become Leader of the Opposition and a date should
be set forthwith for the election of a new political
leader of the UNC," the group wrote.
The Patriots linked her to her predecessor, party
founder and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday,
saying, like him, while she contributed in a significant
way to the development of the party, "she is failing
to realise that her time as leader has come and gone."
They said: "With this lack of understanding, she
is failing to put party first before self and given the
fact that we will be facing the polls once again in ten
months with the upcoming Local Government elec-
tions, the party must prepare itself for resurgence and
victory. The Patriots underscored that there had been
no internal elections under her watch as its leader.
"The time has come for us to gather our collective
thoughts, shake off the defeat of the 2015 general elec-
tion and move forward with new leadership, ready,
willing and able to prove to the people of T&T that
we can once again regain their trust and govern by
the principles and beliefs of our great party," they
Attempts to reach members of the UNC executive
failed as they were all gathered at a meeting at the
Couva North constituency office to discuss the legal
challenge the party intends to mount against the result
of Monday's election. However, in a release yesterday
the party said it had agreed to retain Persad-Bissessar
PP to challenge election results...
Extension illegal Former attorney general Ramesh
Lawrence Maharaj described Persad-
Bissessar's allegations as frivolous and
Speaking briefly on CNC 3 last night,
Maharaj said the EBC was also well within
its right to extend the voting hours.
"It does not seem to me on the face of it
that it can hold because the EBC is an
independent commission, given as one of
its primary functions and the object to
have fair elections in T&T," Maharaj said.
He said in an instance where the EBC
believed there was an incident which
created an emergency situation, and which
could have affected the fairness of the
election by depriving some people a chance
to vote during the time of voting, it had the
power, "expressed or implied," to ensure
"Giving an extra hour cannot in, and even
be said, to violate the powers of the EBC,"
However, he said that issue would not
hamper the elected government from
carrying out its functions, adding that the
move by Persad-Bissessar was a futile
attempt to "keep the old government in
"In order for that to occur an application
would have to be made to a court for a
court to grant a retrieving order to prevent
a new Government from taking office, but
no court would grant such an order
because to get such an order you have to
first show you have a strong legal case. I
think the court would hold that this claim is
frivolous and vexatious and an abuse of
Dillon to review security resources
Lobby group wants Kamla out...
PNM's elected candidate
for Point Fortin, retired
Major General Edmund
Dillon, takes the oath of
office for National
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Your time has
come and gone
CALLS FOR RAMADHAR'S HEAD TOO
Congress of the People leader also faced a similar
situation yesterday, with the party's Youth Congress calling
for him to step aside in light of the party's poor showing as
part of the PP in the election defeat.
Citing COP's loss in seven of its eight contested seats,
reducing the number of MPs from six to one from 2010, the
Youth Congress said it took a unanimous decision to ask
Ramadhar to demit office.
It said Ramadhar's "failure to maintain a COP identity
within the People's Partnership and his refusal to heed the
calls of members in the past have led to its current state.
"The Youth Congress remains hopeful that a new face can
emerge to begin rebuilding and re-engaging disenchanted
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