As the day for local government elections gets closer, the police service is reminding citizens to respect each other’s constitutional right to campaign for—and support the political party of—their choice.
The TTPS’ Sergeant Ashraf Ali is encouraging citizens to get familiar with the Representation of the People Act, which documents the various offences that should not be committed during election time.
“If you cause somebody to act and their intention is to be disorderly and disrupt the flow of the meeting, it is an offence,” Sergeant Ali notes. “You can be arrested and charged, and put before the courts. Also, with regard to election vehicles,” he says, “which have the signage indicating such, they are official election vehicles. It is okay if you have an issue with a political party, but do not damage their official vehicle to show your displeasure with them. That is an offence also.”
Sergeant Ali says the recent, unintentional clash between a UNC motorcade and a PNM meeting in Siparia, was an unfortunate event.
The PNM were having a meeting at the Thick Village Community Centre in Siparia, at the time the UNC motocade rolled past.
He says it underscores the importance of having political parties coordinate their constituency activities with police.
“We normally would get information on which political party is having meetings in particular areas,” he explains. “We would give advice on avoiding any potential conflicts by recommending they choose alternate routes if they’re doing a drive through in particular areas.”
He adds: “We know how emotions can get around election period, so this is to avoid conflict.”
Story by NEWS DESK
Lead image caption: Police officers stop a vehicle with UNC leader Kamla Persad Bissessar and supporters as they approach the PNM’s public meeting in Thick Village, Siparia. (Copyright RISHI RAGOONATH)