PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Saturday rubbished a threat by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar of legal action should he name the date for a general election due later this year with the country’s borders still closed as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“All I could say to that is that Trinidad and Tobago has a responsible government and that government observers the law and the supreme law in this country is the Constitution. The Constitution determines how and when an election could be called and it has nothing to do with the fuddles of any opposition leader,” Rowley told a news conference.
Persad Bissessar, speaking at a virtual media conference earlier this week, told reporters that should the Prime Minister decides on calling the date for the general election at a time when the borders are closed “our lawyers will be waiting”.
She said that there were thousands of citizens overseas who must be allowed to enter the country freely in order to cast their votes.
General elections are due no later than November this year, and while Rowley has not given any indication as to when the People’s National Movement (PNM) would seek a new mandate from the population, he did earlier this week indicate that the Parliament would be dissolved in July.
Under the Constitution, an election must be called within 90 days of the dissolution of the 41-member Parliament.
Rowley said decisions taken regarding the health of the population in the COVID-19 era are taken with respect to the Public Health Ordnance “and all those who believe that they own the court house and that is where they will conduct their politics, they are free to do so.
“I will not be fazed by the threats of the Opposition Leader. If she had anything useful to say she would have said it and the fact that she is so obsessed with the election should tell this country all the country needs to know.
“We are obsessed by other things election not being the number one priority. The number one priority in this country is to ensure that we minimise our exposure and our disruption by a virus in a pandemic and if she knows there is a law that says that in a pandemic you have no election, I thought I heard her calling for an election.”
Rowley told reporters that the opening of the borders “is a matter for the government of Trinidad and Tobago”.
He said perhaps the Opposition Leader wants the border open “for her members to come back home as they should…but that is not the basis on which we conduct the health care issues of Trinidad and Tobago.
“The border is closed for a reason and its opening partially or in total would be a public health issue and not an election issue,” Rowley told reporters. (CMC)