Two days after Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar accused Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of breaking the law by not holding long overdue by-elections, the PNM has announced its two candidates.
A release yesterday reported the screening committee met on April 4 at Balisier House to screen prospective candidates for the upcoming local government by-elections for Belmont East and Barataria. The release said ten people were screened, five for each electoral district, and the committee “expressed delight with the high quality of nominees.” The candidates chosen were Nicole Young for Belmont East and Kimberly Rae-Ann Small for Barataria.
At the UNC Monday Night Forum, Persad-Bissessar threatened to take Rowley to court over the two seats, which were made vacant by the deaths of two councillors on the Port of Spain and San Juan Laventille regional corporations. She said she had already taken the first step, serving Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi with two pre-action protocol letters on Monday, instructing him to take action to have President Paula-Mae Weekes issue a writ of election for the electoral districts.
Pernell Bruno, the representative for Barataria on the San Juan Laventille Corporation, died on July 8 of cancer. The chairman of the corporation declared his seat vacant on July 26. On November 18, Belmont East councillor Darryl Rajpaul, who sat on the Port of Spain City Corporation, died suddenly while playing football.
PNM chairman Franklin Khan told Newsday that the party began the screening process since February, with a call for nominations on February 26. Closing date for nomination was March 19 and the screening exercise was April 4. “Our two candidates have already hit the ground running. All that is remaining now is for the Prime Minister to announce the date and inform the President to do the election writ.”
Khan said the PNM has no obligation to inform other parties seeking to contest the two seats to start their selection process. UNC deputy political leader David Lee said he was heartened by the announcement and believes the legal threat triggered the PNM’s fast-tracking of its candidates. He said the UNC had already shortlisted candidates and, now there was some semblance that the elections would be very close, the party would announce them in a few days.
He reported the party has been working the ground in the two districts.