THE recount of the ballots for five constituencies in Monday’s general election has delayed the swearing-in of the new government.
The Office of the President on Thursday advised the swearing-in ceremony scheduled for Friday had been postponed.
"Please be advised that the ceremony to swear in the new government will NOT be tomorrow Friday August 14," the President's office said in an email to newsrooms. The media will be advised of a new date, it added.
Following the election, the PNM declared victory with a 22-19 result against the UNC. The UNC challenged the results in five constituencies.
The swearing-in of the government members can only take place after the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) submits the official results to the Office of the President. On Wednesday, the EBC released preliminary results of 22-19 in favour of the PNM which won 322,250 and the UNC received 309,188 votes.
EBC corporate communications manager Bobbi Rogers said there is no time frame in which the recount must be completed only that the candidates had up to noon the day after the election to file their challenge. Rogers said once the ballots are recounted, the swearing-in can take place even if the matter goes before the courts.
The recount is on for St Joseph, Tunapuna, La Horquetta/Talparo, San Fernando West and Toco/Sangre Grande. The UNC's St Joseph candidate Ahloy Hunt on Wednesday had his attorney write to the EBC complaining of the improper conduct of the returning officer during the recount.
PNM chairman Colm Imbert accused the UNC of deliberately delaying the recount process during a media briefing on Thursday.
The Office of the President had previously given August 12 as the tentative date for the swearing-in, then pushed it to August 14, which it postponed to whenever the re-count is completed.
On Wednesday, the Office of the President issued a statement advising that all government officials remain in office until the re-appointment of the sitting Prime Minister or appointment of a new one. Also, the Senate President and Speaker remain in office until the Senate and the House of Representatives meet to elect and appoint new office-holders when the new parliamentary term begins.