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Reject Govt’s split-vote talk
Reject racist split-vote talk by the United National Congress. That was the advice given to electors in St Joseph, on Thursday, by leader of the People’s National Movement Dr Keith Rowley. Rowley was speaking at a Divali function organised by the party at First Capital Park, St Joseph. Electors from St Joseph will vote for a new MP on Monday during the hours of 6 am to 6 pm as the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) conducts its unprecedented fourth election in the country for this year.
The St Joseph by-election was called after Speaker Wade Mark declared the seat vacant. It was held by sacked justice minister Herbert Volney. Volney wrote to Mark indicating that he had resigned from the UNC and joined the Independent Liberal Party, formed by another former government minister Jack Warner. Apart from the UNC/PP and the PNM, two other parties—the ILP and the Democratic National Assembly and independent candidate Errol Fabien are contesting Monday’s by-election.
Rowley said the Government was not interested in responding to concerns about its management of the country since 2010 but only about calling on electors to not split the votes. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has repeatedly said at UNC meetings that the ILP was splitting the votes and consequently the PNM would win. Even though the ILP and UNC/PP contested the October 21 local government elections separately, their collective votes were significantly higher than the PNM, which won the elections.
He said talk of not splitting the votes by Persad-Bissessar and others on the UNC/PP platform was an “appeal to tribalism, to appeal to baseness.” Rowley said the Government was saying Monday’s poll was only about splitting votes and not governance issues. Rowley said the PNM understands what the Government was saying by the don’t-split-votes campaign. “They are saying to a particular group in the country, your vote belongs to us (and) don’t give it to anybody else.”
He said the UNC was appealing to the specific electors to ignore governance issues “and just vote for us because we are of the same race and religion.” Rowley said such a campaign would be a threat to the nation’s democratic traditions. Rowley then urged “the East Indian community to reject those politicians who are appealing to you purely and purposely on the basis of your ethnicity and religion.”
He said the Government must be told by the electors that Monday’s poll is about accountability and “you must now be allowed to hide behind your race, your religion and your geography.”
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