Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday met with members of the Muslim community who said that they have no objections to the Chaguanas West by-election being held in the month of Ramadan.
However, they appealed that it not be held in the last ten days of the holy period which takes place from July 29 to August 7.
Constitutionally, the by-election must be called by August 9.
Ramadan, subject to the sighting of the moon will begin on July 9 and end on August 7.
Former Chaguanas West MP and government minister Jack Warner has repeatedly requested that the Prime Minister not call the election date during the Ramadan period.
Persad-Bissessar met with the president general of the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jammat Association (ASJA) Haji Yacoob Ali, the president general of the Trinidad Muslim League (TML) Dr Nasser Mustapha, representatives of the Tacveeyatul Islamic Assocartion,Taakaful T&T Society, the Islamic Missionaries Guild and the Muslim Credit Union.
Both Yacoob Ali and Mustapha were present at the Post-Cabinet news conference at the Prime Minister’s Office, St Clair where they delivered statements which support the Prime Minister calling the election date whenever she sees fit.
Mustapha said, “We the leaders of the various Muslim organisations, we held discussions among ourselves and with the honourable Prime Minister. We have come to the conclusion that if the by-election for the Chaguanas West constituency happens to be called during the month of Ramadan, we the members of the Muslim community would have no objections, it will in no way affect our religious obligations in this month and we would definitely go ahead and support it. So on behalf of the Muslim community whatever date that the honourable Prime Minister decides to call the elections we will be in full support.”
Yacoob Ali also expressed support but added that the Prime Minister was asked to bear in mind that the last ten days of Ramadan were very crucial to a Muslim devotee.
“We asked her to bear in mind that during the last ten nights of the holy month of Ramadan people are in seclusion and maybe she will give it consideration, if it has to be done, it has to be done, even during that period we will have no objection but if it can be avoided we ask her to do this and she has promised to look into it and see what she can do and maybe avoid having it during the last ten days of the month when Muslims are confined to the mosque and those who are willing to be there for that period, they are not to have too much contract with the outside world so to speak so that there would not be able to vote, so she will give consideration to that aspect of it,” said Yacoob Ali.
He thanked the Prime Minister whom he said was very receptive and “will do the right thing when the time comes”.
Asked what convinced members of the Muslim community to agree that the elections be held during Ramadan, Mustapha said that only a small number of persons will be affected as it was one constituency.
He said elections were held previously in the month of Ramadan – the 1976 and 2001 general elections.