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Searchlight editor part of observer group to Trinidad and Tobago elections

Searchlight editor part of observer group to Trinidad and Tobago elections


Clare Keizer, editor of the SEARCHLIGHT newspaper, is part of a Commonwealth Observer Group to Trinidad and Tobago’s Parliamentary Elections, scheduled for September 7.

The six-member team of observers was constituted by Commonwealth {{more}}Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, at the invitation of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

“Trinidad and Tobago is a committed and valued member of the Commonwealth, and we are pleased to deploy observers for these important elections,” Sharma said.

The Secretary-General added: “Free and fair elections lie at the very heart of inclusive and responsive democratic governance, and the presence of our observers is an expression of the enduring Commonwealth partnership with the people of Trinidad and Tobago as they exercise their right to choose their leaders and shape the future of their country.”

Next Monday’s general elections will be the 12th since Trinidad and Tobago achieved independence in 1962 and the second to be observed by the Commonwealth.

The latest voters’ list includes 1,099,279 names and on Nomination Day, August 17, 182 persons were nominated to contest the 41 seats, 39 of which represent Trinidad and two the island of Tobago.

The elections are expected to be a close race between the governing coalition, the ‘People’s Partnership,’ led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (of which the United National Congress (UNC) is the largest party, the other two constituent parties being the Congress of the People (COP) and the Tobago Organization of the People (TOP)) and the opposition party, the People’s National Movement (PNM), led by Dr Keith Rowley.

The Independent Liberal Party (ILP) of former football boss Jack Warner will contest 26 seats.

Commonwealth observers will assess the various factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process as a whole. They will consider the pre-electoral environment, the voting process, counting and tabulation procedures and the announcement of results.

The group is independent and will determine in its own judgement whether the elections have been conducted according to the standards to which Trinidad and Tobago has committed itself, with reference to its own election-related legislation, as well as relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments.

Observers will act impartially and will adhere to the standards of the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.

The Group will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will send it to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, the Election and Boundaries Commission, political parties and all Commonwealth governments. It will then be made


The Commonwealth Observer Group arrived in Trinidad and Tobago last Monday and is being supported by a four-member staff team from the Commonwealth Secretariat, led by Yvonne Apea Mensah, head of Africa Section in the Political Division.

Chair of the Observer Group is Sir Paul Tovua, former Speaker of Parliament and Chair, Political Parties Commission in the Solomon Islands.

The other Group members are: Alfred Sears QC, barrister and former Attorney General of The Bahamas; Taleya Rehman, executive director, Democracy Watch, Bangladesh; Aaron Hape, executive director, Commonwealth Youth New Zealand; and Mawethu Mosery, electoral officer, South Africa.

In addition to the Commonweath Secretariat, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has been invited to observe the elections.