Political Leader of the United National Congress (UNC) Kamla Persad-Bissessar says racist comments on her party's Facebook page were not authorised, would never be authorised nor condoned by her party.In a telephone interview yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said she would look into the matter and speak to the administrators of the page.
Shortly after the PNM's victory on Monday, supporters from either side of the political divide used social media to express their joy or frustration at the result.However, the posts went from congratulatory and sad to verbal attacks in a short space of time.One Facebook user went so far as to threaten to kill the newly appointed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and to use magic to harm him.
That same person later deleted his post and replaced it with an apology and an explanation that he had initially been incensed by the election results and had expressed his frustration.Another supporter described Rowley as a monkey, while others threatened physical violence against a particular ethnic group.
"I haven't seen these posts but I can say that they would never be authorised by the party," Persad-Bissessar said.Asked if she was prepared to address these specific supporters about the comments, she said she would meet with the UNC's national executive and the constituency executive and would chart the way forward.
Secretary of the Psychiatric Association Varma Deyalsingh says because of the tribal nature of local politics, it was necessary for leaders of political parties to set an example and encourage their supporters to refrain from racist conversations and accept the results.
"It hurts society and especially children who are hearing this talk. It will be imprinted in their mind," Deyalsingh said.He said that because the election was long and drawn out, with direct attacks on the leaders, people went through an emotional roller coaster.
"What happens is that the supporters of the losing side go through a series of psychological events.
"They are going through the phases of disbelief, anger, bargaining, depression and hopefully acceptance.
"But the anger phase is being expressed with these hateful and racist verbal attacks."He said people might regret their actions and statements later.He said the problem could escalate if supporters of the winning party, after being attacked, chose to respond with the same vitriol.
This is something which has already occurred as some people have responded to the posts by making ridiculing statements about Persad-Bissessar.
Yesterday, minutes after being sworn in as Prime Minister in a ceremony at Queen's Hall, Rowley was asked about the comments by reporters. He dismissed the question, initially saying he had not seen the comments before adding that he had more important things to discuss, his first order of business being to ensure delivery of the budget as required by law.