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PEP candidate on by-election: PNM, UNC violated electoral rules

Published: 
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
PNM’s Belmont East by-election candidate Nicole Young proudly shows off her finger after casting her vote at the Belmont Girls’ RC Primary School yesterday. PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ

Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) by-election candidate Christoph Samlal yesterday accused the People’s National Movement (PNM) and United National Congress (UNC) parties of violating the electoral rules by placing posters, stickers and paraphernalia within 100 yards of three polling stations in the Barataria district.

The matter was raised by Samlal, PEP’s Barataria by-election candidate outside St George’s College—a polling division in Barataria, where he showed reporters a white painted PNM sign outside the main entrance of the school’s compound, which had a trickle of voters.

Even at Don Miguel Hindu School, which had 2,010 registered voters—the highest number of electorates in Barataria, the voter turnout was slow. Approximately 10,207 burgesses were eligible to vote in Barataria— one of two districts being contested in yesterday’s by-election. Belmont East was the other.

The Barataria district became vacant following the death of PNM councillor Pernell Bruno on July 8, 2017.

Within hours of Samlal’s bringing the matter to the fore, PEP’S leader Phillip Alexander, in a press release, called on the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to launch an immediate investigation into the matter. Alexander stated that the matter will engage their attorneys for further advice as he demanded the EBC to do their constitutional responsibilities and safeguard all parties concerned.

Having traversed the 17 polling divisions in Barataria, Samlal who was not registered to vote in Barataria said he noticed posters and flyers, as well as painted UNC and PNM signs within the 100 yards of three polling stations which he brought to the attention of police officers and EBC officials.

At the Savio RC Primary School, Samlal said the police had to remove UNC and PNM posters stuck on an electricity pole while at Barataria Anglican School election officers told him that the posters fell outside of the 100 yards limit. He said this was contrary to the EBC’s rules which clearly advised voters that there should be no canvassing, congregating and assembling within 100 yards of any polling station.

The EBC warned that failure to comply with this can result in a $7,000 fine or three months imprisonment.

Angered by the turn of events, Samlal came to the conclusion that the posters and stickers were part of the UNC and PNM’s dirty politics and campaigning strategy.

Samlal admitted that while the UNC and PNM fought the Barataria electoral district on a well-oiled machinery, he said PEP had obtained the edge with its policies. PNM’s candidate Kimberly Small who voted at

Harmonites Pan Theatre said she experienced no problems with the election process. Small said she was confident of capturing the electoral district for the PNM.

“I am 100 per cent confident.”

Once victory comes her way, Small said she would hit the ground running to serve her burgesses.

UNC’s candidate Sharon Maraj-Dharam who was joined by a UNC posse, comprising Princes Town MP Barry Padarath, UNC PRO Anita Haynes and its chairman Peter Kanhai at St George’s College where she voted, said there were minor hiccups.

“There are a couple of names that may not be on the voting list. We are just verifying that. We are looking into that.”

Maraj-Dharam too was also optimistic of bringing the seat home for the UNC.

“I am very confident,” a smiling Maraj-Dharam said.

Several Barataria electors, who cast their votes yesterday, claimed the process went without a hitch.

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