Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 22nd 2013 Contents A9
Thursday, August 22, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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The PNM s election machinery is in full gear and the
party is ready for the local government elections when-
ever they are called.
So said Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, adding
the party already has completed its screening of candidates
for the elections and has good people to contest every
He added: "In other words, this PNM is ready for the
local government election which under our law is due
no later than October 25. We took the Prime Minister
at her word."
He said his political party was the only one that was
prepared for the local government election and even the
"In the event they are ready for the general election,
because water more than flour, we ready to make flour
pap with them. Even though we might not be fully ready,
we more ready than all of them," he added.
PNM chairman Franklin Khan, master of ceremonies
at the meeting, said the party had 5,000 volunteers doing
a nationwide verification exercise to ensure the accuracy
of the Elections and Boundaries Commission voter list.
He said the exercise was to make sure all eligible voters
were on the EBC list and were registered at the correct
addresses and that those who have died, migrated or
relocated were removed.
Volunteers would report all inaccuracies to campaign
managers who would report them to Balisier House, he
"This is fundamental to our election victory. This is
the single most important exercise to be conducted. You
can t have any voter-padding or inaccuracies," Khan
Rowley recalled that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar, when she assumed office in May 2010, promised
elections would be called when they were due, saying
she will enshrine it in the Constitution.
"We are saying to the Prime Minister, the local gov-
ernment election of 2013 is due," Rowley added.
Charging that the PM is going out of her way to renege
on her commitment, he urged her to bravely face the
electorate despite her losses in the Tobago House of
Assembly election on January 21 and the Chaguanas
West by-election on July 29.
"So you get licks in Tobago, licks in Chaguanas, you
going to get licks in 2013," he said.
Rowley said the PNM knew it postponed local gov-
ernment elections (four times consecutively) but the
UNC s 2010 campaign issue was that would never happen
"Every wrong thing they want to do, they preface it
by saying the PNM did that," he added.
Rowley: PNM ready
for local govt polls
Demanding that criminals be brought
to book, a tough-talking Dr Keith Row-
ley says he will call on Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar to introduce
draconian penalties for criminals who
"take out" witnesses to prevent the pros-
ecution of their cases.
The Opposition Leader, speaking at a
PNM meeting at Hi-Lo carpark, St
Augustine, on Tuesday night said he
intended to put the request to Persad-
Bissessar in a meeting today which he
requested to discuss the crime spike in
the Duncan Street area.
Rowley said the Opposition was now
in a position to influence government
He said he walked on Duncan Street
last Saturday and the fear was such that
"you could have cut it with a knife."
There was an escalation of violent crime
in the area over the last few weeks, includ-
ing the murder of two teenagers.
Rowley said: "We empathise with the
victims of east Port-of-Spain and we
demand that the criminality be brought
"I will ask her to see whether it is pos-
sible for us to strengthen and put serious,
draconian penalties to bear upon any per-
son who tampers with any witness. So
if you commit crime A and the penalty
is ten years, witness-tampering must be
"Tampering with witnesses drives a
wedge at the heart of the criminal justice
system. The criminals know if there is
no witness and if they are afraid to talk,
in whatever they do in broad daylight
there is no prosecution."
Referring to Duncan Street, he added:
"People are so afraid to even talk to you
because they are afraid that somebody
might see them talking to you and he
might kill them, having accused them of
ratting on them. We have to protect
witnesses with serious responses."
Rowley said the PNM was so serious
that if legislation to the end needed
amending or strengthening in Parliament,
once it made sense and had a chance of
success, the Opposition would support
it. He said the Government s "invasion
and retreat" crime response was not curb-
ing criminality in the area.
"We cannot keep having a repeat of
invasion and retreat. Every time there is
a spike in murders, you invade east Port-
of-Spain. You lock down the street, you
lock down the block and then you gone
and the criminality continues... the guns
flow and then you come back for another
invasion some time later on."
Rowley said there had been a failure
on the part of policing in the country and
he dismissed the PM s plan to go back to
Parliament with death-penalty legisla-
He said: "Before you hang anybody,
you have to find out who you going to
hang, who is committing the crime... if
you have information which can be turned
into evidence... if you can arrest and lay
a charge... if you can tender evidence
before the court, get a conviction and a
sentence... only then does hanging come
"And, of course, along the way, you
have to have witnesses alive and well.
How can you hang what you don t see...
who you have not arrested, charged?" he
He said it was against that background
he had requested the meeting with Per-
"We are in a position to put PNM poli-
cies and demands to the Government,"
However, he said, the PM said she
would "talk and agree" and, therefore,
he would not be making any demands
on her, he would be making "requests."
Rowley wants tough
penalties for criminals
PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley speaks to the party's St Joseph candidate for
the upcoming Local Government elections Marcia Chan Pak during the party's
meeting at the Hi Lo carpark, St Augustine, on Tuesday night.
PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
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