PNM, UNC prepare for by-elections

UNC vice chairman Khadijah Ameen speaks to the media at the party's headquarters in Chaguanas on August 14, 2023.  - Photo by Angelo Marcelle
UNC vice chairman Khadijah Ameen speaks to the media at the party's headquarters in Chaguanas on August 14, 2023. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

THE PNM and the UNC have started preparations for by-elections in the Lengua/Indian Walk and Quinam/Morne Diablo.

Both parties made this announcement on May 9.

In a statement, PNM general secretary Foster Cummings said the party has officially opened nominations for in both districts.

Morne Diablo/Quinam falls with the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC) while Lengua/ Indian Walk is under the Princes Town Regional Corporation (PTRC).

Both corporations are controlled by the UNC.

Cummings said the nomination period runs from May 9 to 15 with screening to begin shortly afterwards.

"The PNM takes the business of the governance of Trinidad and Tobago and our country’s democracy very seriously. The PNM is committed to participating in every election, and is the only political institution that has fielded a candidate in every constituency for general election, candidates in every electoral district for local government election, and candidates for every Tobago House of Assembly election."

Contacted via Whatsapp, UNC chairman Davendranath Tancoo said, "As a fully democratic party, we will soon open the nominations for both local government by election seats and proceed with screening applicants to ensure the best candidate will be selected to represent the burgesses in those areas."

Tancoo claimed that Government has not called the dates for these by elections because "they too know that we will win."

He reiterated that the UNC is also doing significant work in preparing for next year's general election.

Tancoo said, "We are confident that we will win based on our current level of readiness."

The issue of the by elections was also raised at a news conference at UNC headquarters in Chaguanas on May 9.

UNC vice-chairman Khadijah Ameen scoffed at Cummings' announcement of PNM preparations for those elections.

PNM general secretary Foster Cummings, also the Youth Development and National Service Minister, during the opening of a recreation ground in Talparo on March 2. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

"We don't care about PNM business. We want to know when is the election date."

Ameen expressed confidence that the UNC would retain the the Quinam/Morne Diablo district.

She made no comment about Lengua/Indian Walk

PTRC chairman Gowrie Roopnarine and PDRC chairman Gowtam Maharaj asked when their respective corporations will be properly constituted by having elected councillors for Lengua/Indian Walk and Quinam/Morne Diablo respectively.

In March, the Court of Appeal dismissed a petition by the UNC to stop a by-election in Lengua/Indian Walk.

Justices of Appeal Charmaine Pemberton, Vasheist Kokaram and Carla Brown-Antoine held that a disputed ballot, favouring then UNC candidate Nicole Gopaul-Jones in the August 2023 local government elections, could not be counted because of the failure of the Elections and Boundaries Commission’s returning officer to initial it.

The judges dismissed the UNC’s election petition. They ruled the election rules under the Representation of the People Act allowed for the rejection of the special ballot.

The UNC filed the petition on August 21, 2023, after two recounts led to the PNM’s candidate Autly Granthume being announced the winner over Gopaul-Jones on election night, August 14, 2023.

Granthume initially received 1,430 votes compared to Gopaul-Jones’s 1,425. At the end of the first recount, each candidate received 1,428 votes.

The returning officer rejected a special ballot in favour of Gopaul-Jones – which would have broken the tie.

Quinam/Morne Diablo was declared vacant after the death of its UNC councillor Diptee Ramnath last December.

Ramnath was also PDRC chairman at that time.


"PNM, UNC prepare for by-elections"

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