Accusing the United National Congress of being self-serving and presenting legislation to prevent its imminent general election defeat, Rowley said the run-off poll could prevent the President from appointing a prime minister and successful candidates and a defeated prime minister and government might have to stay in office until any required run-off is done. He warned that in the interim 15-day period, a defeated government with access to Treasury funds could go into targeted constituencies and try to sway votes in its favour.
He claimed 25 government projects were done in St Joseph to aid People’s Partnership candidate Ian Alleyne in last year’s by-election. Rowley said: “But they are now putting into law to allow at the end of an election that they can do that. All they have to do is file an election petition, obstruct completion of an election in the second run-off and go to court and use their battery of lawyers to drag it out and remain in office.”
A run-off will also clear out of the way smaller parties, like the Independent Liberal party (ILP) and Congress of the People (COP), who were second and third, he said. Since the proposal could see defeated MPs remaining in office until a run-off is held, the situation could lead to disturbance of the peace and good order, Rowley said, and Section 53 of the Constitution stated Parliament must make laws for peace and good order.
Considering the negative potential of the run-off poll—possible breach of the peace—he said the initiative would require a special two-thirds majority for passage, which the Government didn’t have, and not a simple majority as it said. “This Government is laying the foundation so that when it is defeated for there not to be a peaceful and quiet transfer of power in T&T,” he argued. He gave another example of defeated MPs having to stay in office and pass a budget while they awaited run-off polls.
“I ask all the people of T&T, if you believe Section 53 on peace and good order is important and the potential for political instability could damage T&T, reject all the blandishments of the government spokespersons and focus on the potential of this run-off to create dangerous instability,” he added.
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