Last update: 05-Dec-2013 1:00 am
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Voters ‘harassed’ by ILP member
The voting was slow and steady on the southern San Juan side early this morning for the St Joseph by-election.
However, the process was marred for the United National Congress (UNC), which drafted a formal complaint to the Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC) about alleged intimidation of UNC personnel near certain polling stations by an Independent Liberal party (ILP) member, according to the UNC’s Devant Maharaj.
Maharaj voiced concern this morning, saying he had received reports alleging it involved an ILP activist who “had done the same thing he did in the local government poll,” he claimed.
Maharaj claimed this involved following a candidate and several UNC officials and “pursuing them in a very offensive obtrusive way, putting his camera right into people’s faces.”
Maharaj said UNC officials reported this happening at polling stations in Bamboo Village No 1 and at the Cipriani Labour College.
“We’ve consulted with our attorneys and drafted a formal letter of complaint to the EBC about this,” Maharaj added.
The UNC eventually forwarded an official letter of complaint against Ishmael to the EBC today.
In it, UNC election agent Neil Gosein accused Ishmael of intimidating voters under the guise of covering the election as a journalist. He said voters had complained of harassment from Ishmael, saying he was targetting potential UNC voters and staff attached to the campaign.
The ILP’s Sunil Ramjitsingh said he was unaware of any incidents and had not received reports of any problems.
People’s National Movement (PNM) general secretary Ashton Ford also said his party had not received any complaints.
While there was a slow but steady stream of voters during the first few hours at San Juan polling stations on the Southern Aranguez side, there was a heavy stream in some parts of northern St Joseph proper and on the hill at the same time.
When the T&T Guardian visited polling stations at San Juan Boys’ and Girls’ RC schools at 6.05 am, there were some people there, but not in large numbers or long lines.
Between 6 am and 8 am, it was also slow going at Aranguez Hindu School, where no lines were in sight and at Aranguez Government Primary on Mary Street. From 8 am onwards, voting at Gandhi Vedic School was also slow.
However, there was much more activity and a constant stream of people between 6.30 am and 9 am at the polling stations at Aranguez North Secondary school. People came in twos and threes or alone, young and old, many in office wear, apparently en route to work. The pace stepped up at that station from 8 am.
“A constant flow,” said the UNC’s Maharaj, who drove around making checks with polling agents.
“Yeah, we done stain we finger,” said a woman who walked out of the polling station with her husband, holding up the fuchsia-stained digit.
Some students of Aranguez North Secondary also turned up for classes, only to be told there was no school that day. Several were gleeful, though one schoolboy groused, “Dey wasting we time—dey ent tell we nothing bout no school today.”
PNM chairman Franklin Khan said his reports were also that a heavy turnout was noted in what were traditional PNM stronghold areas.
The ILP’s Ramjitsingh, when asked how the slow to moderate stream might affect his candidate, Om Lalla, said he expected the turnout would be heavier in the evening.
There was a visible police presence in the constituency, with police jeeps and cars as well as the national security helicopter overhead making rounds.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith also began touring the areas from very early this morning. Accompanied by one black escort vehicle—and no sirens—Griffith said he was “on the ground” solely as National Security Minister and to ensure the day’s exercise was incident-free. He said a special joint operation was mounted with the National Operations and Command Centre to monitor the voting.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.