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‘Good morning, Madam PM...!’
May 25, 2010
Trinidad and Tobago wakes up this morning to a historic new chapter being written by its first female Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar after her coalition People’s Partnership (PP) won yesterday’s general election. Persad-Bissessar, 58, steered her PP to victory in yesterday’s polls, exactly four months after she assumed UNC leadership on January 24 of the party founded and previously led by former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday.
The country’s next government will be formed today from the PP’s five-member aggregation. This comprises the United National Congress, Congress of the People, Movement for Social Justice, National Joint Action Committee and Tobago Organisation of the People. PP leader Persad-Bissessar, who will be T&T’s seventh Prime Minister, declared victory at UNC’s Rienzi Complex headquarters last night. Defeated PNM leader Patrick Manning conceded at 10.38 pm last night, saying he would now have to consider his future in politics. Manning, a three-term Prime Minister, had led the PNM in government since 2001.
Manning, who won his San Fernando East seat, said: “I do not know which seats we have won and what we have lost...the final figures are not in. What I do know is that we have lost the election and have therefore conceded.” Addressing PNMites at Balisier House, Manning said the result was not the end of the world. “We in the PNM believe in democracy—the people have spoken,” he said. “The voice of the people is the voice of almighty God. Accept the results and I accept full responsibility for it.”
Manning said the PNM would today analyse the event and would shortly thereafter call its General Council together “for appropriate discussions.” “One of the things of course, I will now have to consider is my future in politics,” he said. “I can assure you of one thing though...the best decision will be taken in the interest of the PNM.” Manning said he would return to his house in San Fernando as soon as possible. He said his house was always vacant and he can move into the house today if necessary.
In last night’s results, the UNC held on to its original 15 seats, also picking up a number of seats formerly held by the PNM, including in the East-West Corridor, a PNM stronghold. The PNM originally held 26 seats. The PP grouping took an early lead in a swing of key seats—held by PNM— deemed to to be marginal, as well as other seats.
These included Tobago East and West, Pointe-a-Pierre, St Joseph, Tunapuna, Moruga/Tableland, St Ann’s East, San Fernando West, Lopinot Bon Air West and Arima. The COP partner in the PP won several seats in the East/West corridor including Tunapuna which COP leader Winston Dookeran wrested from the PNM. Dookeran thanked PNM supporters for contributing to his victory. He said the overall political victory was five years in the making.
Tobago East, which had been held by the PNM, was the first seat to be declared, at 8.55 pm. This was followed by Tobago West. PNM’s Tobago leader Orville London conceded both seats at 9.15 pm before Manning conceded. London told T&T Guardian last night: “I’m disappointed that we lost the two seats but we recognise what the issues are.
However, I congratulate the winning candidates.” London said the issues in Tobago were the same as they were in Trinidad. Tobago had also been instrumental in facilitating the Government in 1995 when the UNC had taken power in an arrangement with the NAR.
Parties Votes % Seats
People's Partnership 432,026 59.81 29
New National Vision 1,998 0.27 0
Independents 349 0.02 0
Total valid (turnout 69.45%) 719,727 100.00 41
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