What already promises to be a bruising Local Government Election battle took an alarming turn on Friday night with the revelations and allegations made from the platform at the PNM’s post-Budget public meeting in Belmont.
If the confrontational tone set by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and National Security Minister Stuart Young is anything to go by, the attacks and counter-attacks will be coming fast and furious over the next six weeks. The stakes might be very high for the main political contenders in this battle but for the electorate, there is a very serious cause for concern.
The political culture of T&T, particularly in election seasons, is usually characterised by bacchanal and mauvais langue. However, what was unleashed on Friday night wasn’t the usual campaign banter but claims of politicians with criminal connections and assassination plots.
This is not the first time that a political leader in this country has claimed to be the target of an assassination plot. Fortunately, no such attacks have ever been attempted.
The fact is, however, that these are matters that warrant serious police investigation and should not be hurled recklessly from political platforms.
It is hard to fathom any benefits to the nation from Friday night’s disclosures. If anything, they only serve to perpetuate divisions, suspicions and instability among the population—something T&T can ill afford.
However, since Dr Rowley and his administration have now opened that Pandora’s box, the UNC and all other opposition parties will not hesitate to detonate their own political bombshells at the expense of more important and relevant political conversations about stability and national development.
It is therefore essential at this juncture, before the political campaigns move into high gear, to remind all political parties and candidates about the Code of Ethical Political Conduct to which most of them signed on a few election cycles ago. This initiative, spearheaded by the T&T Chamber of Commerce, needs to be reinforced and firmly applied for the December 2 polls, as well as for next year’s general election.
This country has, thus far, had the benefit of free and fair elections and political transitions have been, for the most part, conducted without incident. Still, it would be foolhardy to ignore the rancour that is becoming a feature of political engagements, not only in the cut and thrust of political campaigns but also in the chambers of Parliament.
It is not too late to switch gears. The upcoming campaign, which ushers in long-promised reform of the Local Government system, presents an opportunity for more productive conversations on how burgesses can be better served. It would be a disservice to voters if it is overshadowed by unsubstantiated claims about criminal agendas and political schemes.