Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was verbally attacked by a handful of people wearing yellow UNC T-shirts yesterday during a walkabout in central Trinidad yesterday.
The incident occurred close to the Pierre Road Recreation Ground shortly before dark during a two hour walk through Charlieville, in support of the PNM candidates contesting seats on the Chaguanas Borough Corporation.
As Rowley approached, some residents greeted them, while others shouted at him: "We want roti, we want roti! We want we roti. Give we more roti!"
Although he tried to speak with them, they kept shouting at him. Rowley was calm and shook the hands of others nearby who were more accommodating. As he resumed his walk he wished all the protesters well.
There was a heavy police presence accompanying the Prime Minister and the protesters were contained.
The reference to roti was in response to Rowley's recent statement about the purchase during the term of former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of $350,000 worth in roti for guests at a Divali function at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
However, many residents of the area turned out to greet Rowley took selfies with him. He reminded them there was just one more week for the polls to open and he appealed to them to support his party.
There was a small crowd of supporters wearing their PNM T-shirts, who accompanied the Prime Minister, including Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and the candidate for Charlieville, Sabeer Ali.
After the walk, in a brief interview with the T&T Guardian, Rowley condemned all forms of violence. He said citizens are free to support whichever party they wanted without resorting to such acts.
Last Friday a PNM supporter was shot while driving in a music truck in Chaguanas. He was treated at the Chaguanas Health facility and discharged. PNM campaign manager, Energy Minister Franklin Khan and his UNC counterpart, Surujrattan Rambachan, have made statements condemning violence in the campaign for the November 28 local government election.
Rowley said the incidents of campaign violence"is something we condemn (as) every citizen is free to choose which side they want to go (vote) and every citizen has the protection of the Constitution to support or not to support."
He said the PNM does not hold it against any citizen "who may not want to support us on any occasion but on every occasion we seek to justify and ask persons to support us."
He said if some citizens are not in support of the PNM "then all we ask is that they respect the process and respect the country's heritage."
Rowley said: "We have always had free and fair elections in this country, without violence, and violence has no place in our elections process. So whether it is violence by word (or) violence by deed, we condemn it and we hope that it doesn't happen again."
The Prime Minister added that the population will choose who they want to run local government and "we accept the majority and the minority position is respected and we go on to the next election."
Rowley said he was very surprised by the mostly cordial reception he received in the area because "it is not a district that we have been able to do these kinds of thing in before because some people believe that some areas are beyond our reach."
He said the PNM is "reaching out to all communities , all citizens and holding out to them good governance and an opportunity to participate against the PNM's fundamental principles."
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Richard Lord)
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