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Trinidad’s ruling party accused of bribery in bid to win next Monday’s election

Faris Al-Rawi 1

PNM PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER FARIS AL-RAWI SAYS THOSE ENGAGING IN BRIBERY WILL BE REPORTED. (PHOTO: GUARDIAN MEDIA ELECTION CENTRAL/KRISTIAN DE SILVA)

The opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) says it has evidence of operatives of the United National Congress (UNC) engaging in electoral fraud, including bribing people to vote for its candidates or stay away from the polls.

The public relations officer of the main opposition party, Faris Al-Rawi told the media yesterday that the culprits would be reported to the authorities.

He charged that in some instances, people were offered either TT$200 (US$31.55)  or TT$500 (US$78.88) to wear UNC jerseys, while in other instances people have been enticed to stain their finger the night before next Monday’s general election and not show up to cast their votes.

“We do actually have in our possession evidence of some of these electoral frauds taking place,” Al-Rawi, who is also the party’s San Fernando West candidate, said at a news conference that was also attended by attorney and PNM’s Port-of- Spain North/St Ann’s West candidate Stuart Young.

“On my walkabout [Monday] in the constituency I had people coming up to me and literally running up to me with their camera phones showing me photographs of what can only be described as falling foul and offences that have fallen foul of the Representation of the People’s Act being conducted by persons who are part of the UNC campaign.”

Al-Rawi pleaded with “right thinking citizens” not to be sell-outs.

Doing a mathematical calculation based on the amount of money allegedly being offered to people for wearing UNC shirts, he argued: “It invites the people who are willing to accept this to value themselves at either TT$0.10 cents a day or TT$0.30 cents a day.”

The UNC-led People’s Partnership coalition and the PNM are the main parties in the contest for the 41 seats in Parliament.

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