Last update: 10-Dec-2013 10:54 am
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Cops in full force during campaign
National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday mandated a heavy police presence at all political meetings in the build-up to the St Joseph by-election on November 4. He gave the directive after a meeting with the police top brass. “I have given immediate instructions that the police would be out in full force at every political meeting, cottage meetings, walkabouts and any other kind of public gathering which any political party may have as the St Joseph by-election draws closer. “I have asked all political parties to submit the dates and times of all their meetings either to me or to the police commissioner,” Griffith said yesterday. This comes in the wake of a supporter of the United National Congress (UNC) repeatedly punching a resident through a car window during a walkabout in St Joseph on Wednesday.
Asked whether the police would be taking any action against the assailant, Griffith said no official report had been made. Party activists were locked into a polling station at Aranguez during a hotly contested recount on Wednesday evening while UNC and PNM supporters congregated outside. The UNC walkabout was not the only one plagued by incidents of physical and verbal abuse. Independent Liberal party (ILP) candidate Om Lalla’s supporters also had to deal with minor incidents as they crossed paths with opposing party supporters during their walkabouts.
Griffith said a heavy police presence would also be maintained on the day of the by-election and warned that any act of violence would not be tolerated. “Any minister of national security and in fact every law abiding citizen would and should condemn any act of violence. During an election campaign whichever political party supporter is involved, is totally irrelevant. It is unacceptable and should not be condoned in an way,” Griffith said.
Public relations officer for the PNM Senator Faris Al-Rawi said his party had “noted with horror” the altercation on Wednesday. Saying the PNM condemned any form of violence Al-Rawi said such incidents could fetter the freedom of speech and freedom of political affiliation which were enshrined in the Constitution. “Trinidad remembers all too well the murder which took place at the end of the by-election in Chaguanas West and we pray that all political parties will be joining the PNM in condemning any form of political violence during this campaign and at all,” Al-Rawi added. Chairman of the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) former UNC senator Robin Montano said Wednesday’s incident was a sad day for the country and had no place either in the political landscape or in a civilised society. “I am certain that all right-thinking persons, regardless of their political colour, whether red, yellow or green, condemn such behaviour and such an incident,” he said. “I would like to call on all right-thinking persons in the country to condemn outright this type of behaviour. I also call on the all the leaders of every single party to condemn it.”
He said he would not single out whether the incident was typical of a particular party. “Most certainly if it was an ILP supporter I would have no hesitation in saying exactly what I said and I expect the UNC hierarchy would condemn it out of hand and say that they disapprove of this kind of behaviour absolutely,” Montano said. He said he would be “very sad” if UNC leader Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar did not admonish this type of action.
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