Mother of all elections
Trinidadians and Tobagonians will once again go to the polls to elect a Government of their choice on Monday October 7, 2002.
In fact it will be the third General Election to be held in this country during the past 34 months.
But what has brought us to this point? A UNC administration that fell apart when three of its top Ministers defected to the opposition benches in just 10 months after the 2000 elections in which the party gained 19 of the 36 seats, forcing Political Leader Basdeo Panday to advise President Arthur NR Robinson to dissolve Parliament and set December 10, 2001 as the date for fresh elections.
These elections resulted in an 18-18 deadlock between the UNC and the PNM led by Patrick Manning. After calling in both leaders for discussions, President Robinson selected Manning to be Prime Minister on “moral and spiritual” grounds on Christmas Eve.
His selection of Manning started a relentless campaign by the UNC for fresh elections and Manning, having failed at two attempts to elect a Speaker of the House of Representatives, advised President Robinson on Wednesday last week to dissolve Parliament and fix October 7 for fresh elections.
The two main parties, the PNM and the UNC are now in the process of screening their candidates for the elections which political pundits have predicted would be the “mother of all elections” this country had ever seen.
In the past we have demonstrated that we are a peace loving people. However, we fear that even before the campaigning gets underway there are some distressing signs that things may get real warm this election.
We therefore appeal to the political leaders and their supporting speakers not to say anything to incite their followers to violence.
UNC leader Basdeo Panday has called on the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) to draw up a code of conduct for the campaign to be adhered to by all political parties. Panday fears that violence may take over the campaign and has also called on the police to do their duty. He also appealed to Trinidad and Tobago not to succumb to violence.
Manning has appealed to all political parties to excise responsibility in their election campaigns and said the desire for victory should not drive us to do or say anything which could damage the national interest and the prospects for Trinidad and Tobago.
Like Manning we believe that after the elections Trinidad and Tobago remains our home. If you have to go to a political meeting do so peacefully. Do not let the speakers turn up your blood pressure. In fact if you know that this would happen, stay away from the meeting. Listen to it on the radio so if you don’t like what is being said you can turn off the set.
There are heavy penalties for heckling or disturbing a political meeting.
Let us have a clean election campaign.
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