COREY CONNELLY, KINNESHA GEORGE-HARRY and ELIZABETH GONZALES
For the first time in its 40-year history, the results of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election has ended in deadlock.
And the unprecedented development may very well present a constitutional challenge for the THA, PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson Celestine acknowledged on Monday night at the party’s Scarborough headquarters.
The PNM and the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP), the two main parties which contested the election, won six electoral districts each.
According to unconfirmed results from the Elections and Boundaries Commission, the PNM won Lambeau/Signal Hill, Scarborough/Calder Hall, Bacolet/Mt St George, Buccoo/Mt Pleasant and Canaan/Bon Accord.
The PDP got Speyside/L’Anse Fourmi/Parlatuvier, Bethel/Mt Irvine, Plymouth/Golden Lane, Roxborough/Delaford and Goodwood/Belle Garden.
A sombre Davidson-Celestine, who had contested the Lambeau/Signal Hill seat, told reporters the party was pleased it retained six seats in the THA.
Asked if the PNM expected the PDP to do as well as it did in the election, Davidson-Celestine said: “No, I really did not expect them to do as well they have done. But again, we are in a situation where we now basically have a tie and that will present a Tobago House of Assembly Act and even a constitutional challenge at this point in time.”
She added several opinions on the way forward for the assembly have already been proposed.
“There are quite a number of opinions at this point in time and so we wait to be advised as to the best way forward.”
But Davidson-Celestine made it clear the results are not been official.
“My reaction is one where the election is not yet declared. We don’t have the results yet from the EBC. It is trending in a particular direction but at the end of the day we have to wait to see where this tie of six-six will take us.”
Asked if the allegations of corruption levelled against her in relation to a $2.5 million THA-sanctioned zipline project in 2015 may have led to the PNM’s defeat in the election, she said:
“I can’t say at this point in time. We did clarify that situation. I would have made statements on several occasions and more than that, the Prime Minister, from a national perspective, would have put the entire situation in context.”
Davidson-Celestine added: “I did say the management letter is different to the Auditor General’s report. And in the Auditor General’s report there is no mention whatsoever of anything untoward on my behalf or on behalf of the Tobago House of Assembly. So we made that very, very clear and that message was communicated to all the voters in Tobago.”
Davidson-Celestine, who took charge of the PNM Tobago Council after defeating Kelvin Charles in a runoff, said nothing went wrong with the party’s calculations for the election.
“When we make decisions from the party level, we make decisions based on information and based on statistics and we look at the history over a particular period of time.
“We have made a very strong argument in terms of our delivery to the people of Tobago and, more so, where we intend to take the Tobago people.”
Davidson-Celestine congratulated all of the party’s candidates.
“The journey was a very long one. We have knocked on all the doors in the respective electoral districts and although the outcome is not one that we are quite satisfied with at this point in time, we are still very thankful for where we are, retaining six seats in this THA election.”
The election result was in stark contrast to a recent North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) poll which predicted a victory for the PNM.